At the government level, each country needs an anti-slavery plan. Brazil shows what can happen when a government takes a stand. In early 2003 the president of Brazil set up a commission to end slavery. Laws were strengthened and more money was given to anti-slavery squads. In 2003, close to 5000 people were rescued from slavery by Special Mobile Inspection Groups; by 2005 another 7000 had been rescued. More than $3 million was given to liberated slaves to help them get back on their feet. A company or person caught using slaves is put on an official “dirty list,” and in addition to prosecution and imprisonment, that company or person is excluded from receiving any sort of government permits, grants, loans, or credits. Since a large proportion of slaves in Brazil work where land is being developed (ranching, deforestation, agriculture, and logging in the Amazon and other remote areas), the denial of government benefits to slave-using companies can drive them out of business.
As demand for cheap fish and shrimp ramped up, a gold rush began in Bangladesh, Southern India, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka. “Worthless” swamp was converted into monoculture shrimp farms, fish processing camps sprang up, and the great freezer ships were always hungry for more. Hearing of work, poor families flooded into the Sundarban wilderness. Some people were able to make a fresh start, and some landowners working in fish and shrimp were honest and treated their workers well. But criminals were already using child slaves on fishing platforms out in the ocean, and for them it was an easy step to enslave more workers to rip out mangrove forests and farm the little wrigglers that would make such a fine profit.
As the people push in more trees are cut, more islands are taken over, and more children and adults are enslaved to do the work. Some act in desperation, others from greed, but the cycle means that more and more of the forests that protect both people and the rich ecosystem are destroyed.
The loss to nature is profound. Nearly half of the amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds living in mangrove forests are threatened with extinction. These animals, for the most part, aren’t found anywhere else: their range is restricted to the mangrove forests of Asia and Australia. At the current rate of forest loss, the forests and all they hold will all be extinct in one hundred years.
Blood and Earth, Modern Slavery, Ecocide and the Secret To Saving the World by Kevin Bales
The freedom Dividend is an extremely important concept. When people are freed from slavery – or extreme poverty – the entire community is transformed for the better.
Kevin Bales, an internationally recognized expert on modern slavery and freeing people from slavery explains the concept here:
A longer explanation is provided by Michael Shelton on FreeTheSlaves.net (PDF) which includes the following:
In helping to build sustainable freedom for survivors of slavery, we see that in addition to personal liberation, there is a significant Freedom Dividend – a range of social and economic improvements that occur with the removal of individuals and groups from slavery. This freedom dividend is seen in a number of dimensions, including:
educational participation in girls and boys,
increased family incomes and payment of wages,
initiation of family asset formation
improved access to health services,
improved status and greater safety from violence of women and girls
increased political participation,
reduced corruption at the local level in terms of access to legal justice and in delivery of social and development services (such as access to water).
In addition, because former slaves are able to participate alongside other citizens in using public services and in local economic activity, there are improvements in social integration.
These benefits are most directly experienced by the former slaves, and they also directly affect the families of returning trafficking survivors. It is also believed (though not so far rigorously tested) that increased incomes and more efficient work practices of people coming out of slavery lead to a general upward spiral in local economic activity (including the incomes of those families who were NOT held in slavery). Also, to the extent that groups of people coming out of slavery achieve changes in government behavior, improvements in rule of law, and reduction of violence against women, this benefits a wider group of citizens.