Human Trafficking is an issue with many facets, and it’s not an easy problem to address in an comprehensive fashion. The result of the recent passage of a new law meant to make an impact on the issues in the U.K. has resulted in serious issues in the developing world. These unexpected outcomes highlight the complexity of human trafficking legislation:
The Modern Slavery Act was seen as a big achievement for combating the issue of forced labour. But since it was passed by the UK government in 2015, many have pointed out its shortcomings. In particular, how the legislation helps cover up serious forced labour issues, all the while making citizens who are concerned about the problem feel better.
Less well known is how Article 54 of the act, which assigns British companies the responsibility to clean up their global supply chains, hurts factory workers in developing countries. I’ve witnessed how British companies outsource this responsibility to local factory managers in Sri Lanka.
These local managers feel tremendous pressure to monitor their workforce, even beyond the shop floor, for fear of losing their contracts. And this leads to an excessive amount of surveillance, with devastating consequences for factory workers, most of whom are female.