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This volume draws a comprehensive picture of the modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) victim/survivor trajectory. The main aim has been to offer a critical, yet ‘down-to-earth’, overview of the victim/survivor journey, intended both in actual and metaphorical terms. To achieve this, we have put together contributors across the chapters from different fields and perspectives, including from academic and non-academic fields (academic who are also-practitioners or academic writing together with practitioners). While some draw from critical theories (in power, race, migration, gender, epistemology), others are descriptive of a specific phenomenon of investigation.

The volume is a multifaceted and four-dimensional exploration of the journey of the trafficked person. From recruitment through to representation and (re)integration to an examination of the intersection of MSHT with other discourses, in media, films and services; from the macro perspective of organised crime and large business, to the micro-physics of the processes of self- and sense-making of assisted survivors; from how the demand from the UK impacts the online sexual exploitation of children on the other side of the world, to how legal cases are conducted in the UK, it will enable the reader to ‘connect the dots’ making up this journey. By approaching this complex topic – understood both as an actual phenomenon and as a construct – from different angles, professional roles and positionings, we would like to equip readers to be able to build up their own, better-informed interpretations of ‘the victim’s journey’.

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This volume draws a comprehensive picture of the modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) victim/survivor trajectory. The main aim has been to offer a critical, yet ‘down-to-earth’, overview of the victim/survivor journey, intended both in actual and metaphorical terms. To achieve this, we have put together contributors across the chapters from different fields and perspectives, including from academic and non-academic fields (academic who are also-practitioners or academic writing together with practitioners). While some draw from critical theories (in power, race, migration, gender, epistemology), others are descriptive of a specific phenomenon of investigation.

The volume is a multifaceted and four-dimensional exploration of the journey of the trafficked person. From recruitment through to representation and (re)integration to an examination of the intersection of MSHT with other discourses, in media, films and services; from the macro perspective of organised crime and large business, to the micro-physics of the processes of self- and sense-making of assisted survivors; from how the demand from the UK impacts the online sexual exploitation of children on the other side of the world, to how legal cases are conducted in the UK, it will enable the reader to ‘connect the dots’ making up this journey. By approaching this complex topic – understood both as an actual phenomenon and as a construct – from different angles, professional roles and positionings, we would like to equip readers to be able to build up their own, better-informed interpretations of ‘the victim’s journey’.

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In this conclusion, we deepen how this volume is a multifaceted and four-dimensional exploration of the journey of the victim/survivor of modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT). We highlight how the effort of all contributions was directed at bridging a few disconnections, in order to lay the foundations for a terrain in critical modern slavery studies where survivors/victims will have more voice, and power. One key disconnection is the one between ideologies/representations and practices, another one is between the recruitment and the recovery moment, and finally another separation the volume criticises is that between Global North and South. There are several areas of MSHT that could not be covered, such as survivors’ rehabilitation into employment opportunities or policing practices and attitudes. Another limitation of the volume is the insufficient involvement of survivors. However, this book has tried to decolonise the discourse of MSHT via assembling contributions from different positions and roles to fragment a monolithic view on the phenomenon and to cast light on different moments of MSHT – what we have called the victim journey – to show the complexity of the phenomenon. This collection intends to promote an approach and awareness of contexts favouring survivors’ self-inclusion, which is anti-tokenistic, respectful, reflexive and aware of ethical and power dynamics.

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While modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) are intrinsic problems because of the impact they have on victims, a greater threat emerges from the involvement of organised crime. As with other forms of organised crime, increased law enforcement attention on the tactics employed by criminal groups and the factors that make people vulnerable to recruitment results in new tactics being adopted to avoid detection and disruption. In many countries, particularly where there is demand for outward migration, a worrying trend has emerged where communities, families and victims themselves become complicit in their own recruitment, becoming invested in their own exploitation and subsequently reluctant to seek assistance. This chapter traces the creation of a ‘criminal pyramid scheme’, with criminals at the top driving the recruitment and exploitation of victims, communities and families in the middle, encouraging potential victims to migrate, and victims themselves making up the largest layer, expecting to profit and send their earnings home by exposing themselves to exploitation. Drawing on case study research from key routes into the UK and Europe – from West Africa, the Horn of Africa, Albania and Vietnam – this chapter outlines how this criminal pyramid scheme functions and considers strategies to challenge it.

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Social media have opened up new sources of data with the potential to increase our understanding of public opinion on migrants. In this chapter, we examine the discursive representations, in online press and social media, of undocumented immigrants in the British context, between 2015 and 2018. This chapter is based on a study analysing online newspaper articles and corresponding comments published on Facebook using Critical Discourse Analysis. We show that neither online newspaper articles nor their commenters elaborate a nuanced picture of undocumented migration as a complex socioeconomic phenomenon. We identify a shift in media construction, from the undocumented migrant representing a ‘significant enemy’ – during the ‘migration crisis’ of 2015–16 – to becoming a ‘insignificant stranger’ in 2017–18. However, human trafficking never appeared to be explicitly associated with undocumented migration, despite the fact that two phenomena are interlinked. Undocumented migrant are ‘invisible’ individuals at high risk of exploitation, but their vulnerability, and the specific risks of becoming trafficked, were not sufficiently considered by the online British press and the commenters. We suggest that media should reassess their portrayal of undocumented migration and ensure that trafficked migrants are recognised, and assisted, as one of the most vulnerable groups among undocumented migrants.

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Trauma threatens survivors with its permanent story. When reworked in language only, it can be cut off from the rest of its bodily manifestations. Integrating an embodied story of healing, in a meaningful and transformative way, means accessing multiple tools for recovery. The imagination is one of these tools towards holistic healing. This chapter explores how artistic expression can be used phenomenologically to heal wounds experienced from modern slavery and human trafficking. It will discuss how philosophy can give us language to reconceptualise healing as an experience of embodiment in relationships – drawing on the work of Merleau-Ponty and Ricœur. As a Pilates and Somatic practitioner working with survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery, this phenomenological approach has been a particularly helpful methodology to employ in my work. Whereas often trauma discourse can focus on siloed methods for healing trauma, situated in the symptoms of the body, I would argue that a phenomenological engagement with bodily movement, through Pilates and dance in particular, enables the survivor to heal. Healing can occur both through being present to the trauma that survivors continue to suffer in the present, and through reimagining a life beyond the trauma.

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A key challenge of this book project has been to weave in and bring to the fore victims/survivors’ voice in trying to respond to the necessity for greater and better collaborative knowledge production and service design in critical modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) studies. In this respect, the co-authorship of the introduction with an international (J. Julia) and a domestic (Emily) survivor serves a few ends. Firstly, it constitutes a tangible effort to participatory knowledge production. Secondly, this experiment tends towards overcoming survivors’ voice as tokenism. A third purpose of having a co-created storytelling at the onset of the collection is of standing as a more classic introduction, and of gluing the three sections and the chapters of the volume together. Finally, the first-person storytelling aims to point to the current dearth of survivors’ participation in both knowledge- and practice-production in MSHT studies and systems. Accordingly, this introduction first travels through our collaborative victim journey, which will serve to present the three sections and 13 chapters of the volume. After, we offer a quick overview of the state-of-the-art of survivors’ participation in MSHT studies, accompanied by some self-reflective considerations on how to contribute to de-Westernise/decolonise the discourse of MSHT.

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The Victim Journey

Throughout the world, vulnerable subjects are being deceived into entering an abusive journey, in the organ trade, exploitative labour business, and forced criminality – and their lives will never be the same.

This book traces the journey of victims/survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking into and within the UK, from recruitment to representation to (re)integration. Using global comparative case studies, it discusses recruitment tactics and demand, prevention in supply chains, issues with effective legal protection and care services, vulnerability to re-trafficking and the ideological misrepresentation of vulnerable migrants and victims/survivors in media, the film industry, legislation, and more.

Rooted in diverse practitioner experience, disciplines and empirical research, this book bridges the experience-research-practice-policy gap by bringing to the fore survivors’ voices. In doing so, it offers crucial suggestions for better public awareness, policies and practices that will impact interventions in the UK and beyond.

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The chapter summarises key developments in the monitoring and evaluation of anti-trafficking and anti-slavery laws, policies, projects and practice since the beginning of the 21st century. It explains why monitoring and evaluation are important, distinguishing between monitoring that consists of collecting statistics, and evaluations that assess whether expected standards have been met. It presents a typology of three categories of monitoring. The authors emphasise the importance of uncovering the effects of anti-trafficking practice on trafficking victims (‘survivors’), but note that, until recently, government officials seemed to avoid seeking this feedback. The role of international monitoring bodies, such as the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) and national-level monitoring by a government-appointed (but independent) rapporteur is described. A series of evaluations are illustrated, noting the importance of assessing the effects of assistance on individuals, as well as assessing an individual organisation’s performance. The chapter concludes by documenting how a lack of investment in monitoring and evaluation has undermined the effectiveness of attempts to improve anti-trafficking work. Despite the monitoring activities of countless regional and international organisations operating in Europe, national anti-trafficking and anti-slavery systems have been slow to make necessary improvements.

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Online sexual exploitation of children has considerable implications for the safety and welfare of children in the Philippines. Increased demand and availability of child sexual exploitation materials has influenced local networks resulting in alterations to victims’ demographics and the chain of perpetration including peer-related exploitation. The Trafficking in Persons country report for the Philippines situates the responsibility to confront demand on the national government through preventative efforts. Although local prevention is necessary, international demand presents complex problems to an under-resourced Philippine response. Drawing on field research, analysis of the TIP report and the UK government’s Online Safety Bill, this chapter argues for a more proportionate response to international demand.

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