Research & Publications

You can’t cure what you can’t count. That’s why Free the Slaves researches the scope, impact and root causes of slavery in communities where we work. We follow up with systematic monitoring and evaluation of our programs to document our impact and improve our techniques.

Documenting Slavery, Documenting Freedom

Our groundbreaking techniques evaluate improvements in the organizational strength of our front-line partners, the ability of community resilience and resistance to confront traffickers and overcome slavery over time, and reductions in slavery in the communities we help.

Free the Slaves uses eight data collection tools across its country programs. Our grassroots partners, as elements both of their capacity development plan and sub-grant reporting requirements, are provided with technical assistance to adapt and use the appropriate indicators. The assistance is part of a larger effort to strengthen the capacity of the partners to undertake effective monitoring and evaluation.

The eight data collection tools are:

  • Slavery Prevalence Survey, which also measures key variables that affect the vulnerability of communities to slavery such as socioeconomic status and individual knowledge, attitudes and practices.
  • Community Maturity Tool, which is a self-assessment used by community groups and partner organizations to measure the capacity of the community to sustainably resist slavery.
  • Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool, which is used to measure partner organization capacity and create capacity-building action plans in regards to program quality, governance, human resources, finances and communication.
  • Survivor Registry, which is used to track freed slaves and their reintegration.
  • Reintegration Checklist, used to measure survivors’ level of self-sustained independence based on an assessment of progress in the following areas: housing and accommodations; health care; legal status & rights; education & vocational training; employment & income; savings; physical protection; community support; and spiritual support.
  • Media Effectiveness Checklist, used to measure whether media stories (using radio, print, digital or other means) effectively communicate (categorized into accuracy, completeness, tone, and impact) about the slavery situation and/or solutions relevant to national or local context.
  • Advocacy Milestone Tracker, which tracks progress towards desired policy changes.
  • Coalition Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool, which helps identify key areas of strength and areas of potential improvement for a coalition’s development, and then helps create an action plan to build a coalition’s capacity. The assessment focuses on five key performance areas: governance and management; program quality; human resource and capacity development; external relationships; and operations.

The Free the Slaves Monitoring, Learning & Evaluation Department adheres to the American Evaluation Association Guiding Principles.

Global Results

Each year, Free the Slaves tracks key statistics that indicate how effectively our programs are liberating victims, educating the vulnerable, and bringing perpetrators to justice. Since our founding in 2000:

  • 14,000+ people freed from slavery
  • 650,000+ people in trafficking hot spots reached through awareness raising and rights education to prevent their enslavement
  • 300+ traffickers arrested

See a global Google Map of the communities where we work here.

Free the Slaves Publications

Learning From NGOs’ Approaches to Modern Slavery in Southeast Asia

FTS’ recent report “Learning from NGOs’ Approaches to Modern Slavery in Southeast Asia” highlights findings learning from 64 surveys with representatives of organizations addressing modern slavery in Southeast Asia. Read more below to understand how organizations are defining modern slavery, the approaches that are being adopted, and the activities implemented to address severe exploitation. The report also highlights some of the existing gaps affecting the response and provides recommendations for improved multi-stakeholder action against modern slavery.

Download Full Report

Download Executive Summary

Modern Slavery in the Middle East and North Africa

As part of its regional strategy to eradicate modern slavery in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), FTS launched a small-scale research study to better understand the anti-modern slavery landscape in the region. The findings will provide organizations like FTS with an indication of the current state of knowledge and approaches of civil society organizations regarding  modern slavery. These can in turn inform programmatic strategies in the region and ensure that anti-modern slavery ventures correspond with current approaches while addressing existing gaps, furthering capacities to address the issue, and driving the anti-modern slavery movement at the regional level. Download

Catalyzing a Civil Society Movement Against Slavery

What causes modern slavery? How can entire communities become slavery-free and slavery resistant? How can international development organizations improve the reach of their current projects by also fighting slavery? How can we grow the anti-slavery movement and its impact? Find out in this in-depth booklet, which explains the strategies, activities and results that shape the Free the Slaves Community Liberation Model and the Partnerships & Coalitions Model. Full report.

Haiti’s Model Communities

Restavèk is a traditional system in which Haitian children are sent to live with other families and work as domestic servants. The expectation is for the host family to provide schooling, food, and shelter. Yet many children are abused and enslaved in their new homes. The Model Communities project is based on the premise that building community consensus against restavèk is a strong strategy to prevent and reverse the flow of children into domestic servitude. Full Report: English | FrenchExecutive Summary: English | French

Ghana Child Rights in Mining

Gold mining is one of Ghana’s major industries—gold exports are one of the country’s biggest sources of income. But at many mining sites, children are exploited as workers. The Child Rights in Mining pilot project addressed the lack of awareness and protection of child rights, which cause hazardous child labor practices and sexual violence against children. Using illustrated drawings based on the lives of local residents, the project educated parents on the rights of children and how to protect them. Full Report. Executive Summary: English | French.

Understanding Vulnerabilities & Strengthening Response

Nepal’s 2015 earthquake killed thousands, left large parts of the country in ruins, and sparked a sharp rise in human trafficking. This action-research project documented the post-earthquake experience in Nepal, and provided essential action-step recommendations to ensure that desperate and vulnerable people aren’t enslaved in the aftermath of natural disasters around the globe. Full Report 

What Predicts Human Trafficking?

Each case of trafficking has a unique set of causes and effects. The broad variation of trafficking across regions and cultures means that there can be no uniform answer to the question “What causes trafficking?” Still, there are commonalities. Root causes of trafficking in persons include the greed of criminals, economic pressures, political instability and transition, and social and cultural factors. Criminal groups choose to traffic in persons, in part, because it is high profit and often low risk. Download.

Building Resilience Against Exploitation in Senegal and Kenya in the Context of Covid-19

This study highlights how systemic factors that contribute to resilience against exploitation are being impacted by Covid-19 in urban centers within Senegal and Kenya. The research provides evidence toward effective targeting, adaptation and implementation of anti-slavery interventions in the wake of Covid-19. It offers suggestions on how to limit negative impacts arising from the pandemic and where to direct policy, practice and funding attention for ongoing benefit. Research conducted and published in 2021 in partnership with the University of Nottingham Rights Lab. Summary (English) | Kenya Report (English) | Senegal Report (EnglishFrench) | Comparative Report (EnglishFrench)

Community Liberation Toolkit

This four-volume set of training manuals is designed to transfer the knowledge, skills and norms needed for high-impact international development organizations to integrate anti-trafficking strategies and activities into other community-level interventions. Combined with technical assistance from embedded Free the Slaves experts, the toolkit goal is to improve the reach of development programs such as health care, education, food security, gender equality and microenterprise development by removing modern slavery as a barrier that prevents full community participation – while eradicating human trafficking at the same time.  Learn more.  

Congo’s Mining Slaves

This Free the Slaves field investigation documents the types, nature, and scale of slavery at major mining sites in the South Kivu province. It also analyzes the factors that make Congolese workers vulnerable to enslavement and recommends solutions. Full Report: English | FrenchExecutive Summary: English | French.

The Congo Report: Slavery in Conflict Minerals

This investigation is based on testimony from miners, Congolese civil society representatives, officials of the U.N. peacekeeping mission and international human rights organizations. It paints a grim picture. There are widespread reports of collusion between rebel groups and the national army to illegally exploit, tax, and trade minerals, money and arms. Several forms of modern-day slavery have been documented in mining communities. Full Report: English | French.

Rebuilding Lives: Promising Practices in the Rehabilitation of Freed Slaves

This manual offers practical suggestions for helping former slaves recover. It is written as a simple tool for frontline anti-slavery workers who want to start new programs for freed slaves, improve their existing work, and show financial supporters the types of assistance that are most needed.  Download: English | French

Recovering Childhoods

This report investigates the problem of—and solutions to—child trafficking in northern India. We highlight some of the stark realities that underpin trafficking today, and some recommendations for bringing it to an end. We are clear that child trafficking is not an intractable problem, but it is one that deserves and requires focused and well-informed long-term strategies.  Download.

Free the Slaves Videos

See what modern day slavery looks like, follow activists on rescues and community organizing missions, hear from slavery survivors in their own words, and see the Free the Slaves Community Model in action. Videos Page. 

Operationalizing the Movement Behind SDG 8.7

Civil society plays a critical role in raising awareness, advocating with governments to take robust action and developing new interventions to disrupt slavery and aid its survivors. This study, co-authored by Deloitte and Free the Slaves, explores the goals, norms and policy priorities for civil society coalitions within the anti-slavery movement. Full Report

From Slavery to Freedom

Free the Slaves conducted a rigorously-monitored three-year field test of our community-based model. This in-depth report evaluates the results across 19 projects in six countries. Full report.

Trafficking's Footprint - Ghana

Child trafficking is widespread in Ghana – for fishing, mining, farming, domestic servitude and prostitution. Researchers uncover the prevalence and drivers of child trafficking in this report, and identify promising interventions designed to liberate victims, support survivors, and prevent future enslavement. Full report | Summary

Wives in Slavery

Every person has the right to freely choose his or her spouse. But for many women and girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, marriage is coerced and a form of slavery. This exposè examines the causes and impacts of forced marriage in the Congo through the stories of women and girls who have experienced it firsthand. Full Report: English | FrenchExecutive Summary: English | French

India Freedom Dividend

This thorough study, conducted at the beginning and end of a three-year program, provided insight into whether slavery and trafficking had been eradicated in the village of Kukrouthi and determined if other socioeconomic conditions in the community had improved. The survey looks at changes in the economic, social, educational, health, and political status of households in the village. Download.

Slavery and Women

From country to country, continent to continent, the firsthand testimonies of women emerging from slavery tell how the daily exploitation of their labor is consistently compounded by rape and sexual violence. The reports of survivors show that the lack of sexual autonomy and reproductive rights—and the sheer horror of absolute vulnerability— is almost always intrinsic to women’s experience of slavery. Download.

Hidden Slaves: Forced Labor in the United States

Because forced labor is hidden, inhumane, widespread, and criminal, sustained and coordinated efforts by U.S. law enforcement, social service providers, and the general public are needed to expose and eradicate this illicit trade. This report is the first study to examine the numbers, demographic characteristics, and origins of victims and perpetrators and the adequacy of the U.S. response since the enactment of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. Download.

Free the Slaves Books

See more publications about the nature of slavery, strategies to end it, and first-person narratives from slavery survivors. Books Page.

Other Research and M&E Reports about our Work

  • Read our 2018 social mapping report about gender-based violence and modern slavery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (in French).
  • Read our 2017 baseline research report on the scope and dynamics of child begging slavery in Senegal.
  • Read the  2016 Harvard University report about how the community-oriented approach being implemented by FTS’ front-line partner in India is reducing slavery and improving lives.
  • Read our 2016 co-authored research report on anti-trafficking efforts in post-earthquake Nepal.
  • Read the 2015 independent evaluation of our Congo program’s impact, which concludes that “the project has succeeded in its goal to increase community-led resistance to slavery.”
  • Read Deloitte’s Freedom Ecosystem report, produced in 2015 in partnership with Free the Slaves, on ways the anti-slavery movement can become stronger.
  • Read our 2015 report about the need for regional collaboration among South Asian anti-slavery organizations.
  • Read our 2015 literature review on slavery in Kathmandu’s “entertainment” industry in Nepal.

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