Extreme weather events in India made women, children more vulnerable to modern slavery, flags report 

What is the news? 

As per the report published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Anti-Slavery International, Climate change-induced extreme weather events put women, children and minorities at risk of modern slavery and human trafficking. Among other countries, this phenomenon is maximum in India. 

The report observed what happened in the Sundarban delta.

What are report’s observations wrt Sundarban Delta? 

First, the delta region is characterised by intense, recurrent and sudden onset disasters, as well as slow onset ecological degradation making large areas uninhabitable.  

Second, rising sea levels, erratic rainfall, increased frequency of cyclones, tidal surges and floods, mean that millions of people across the Sundarbans are unable to work for most of the year.  

Third, cyclone Aila and recent cyclone Amphan, led to widespread displacement from homes and loss of livelihoods for more than two million people. Such events resulted in more trafficking and forced labour. 

Fourth, severe cyclone and flooding in Sundarbans delta had reduced the land for agriculture, which is the major source of livelihood.  

Fifth, women and children are more vulnerable. Women were also trafficked and often forced into hard labour and prostitution, with some working in sweatshops along the border. 

Sixth, people displaced and migrating from rural to urban areas with no resources, skills or social networks at their destination. They are targeted by agents and / or traffickers in Dhaka or Kolkata. A case study from Ghana also revealed the same situation. 

What is the scale of displacement? 

As per estimates of the World Bank, over 216 million people could be internally displaced by 2050 across six regions due to climate change.  It will further expose them to the risk of modern slavery. Climate change as a risk multiplier that makes people who are already vulnerable due to conflict or inequality more likely to become victims of modern slavery.  

What are the recommendations of the report? 

First, policy-makers urgently need to recognize that millions of people displaced by climate change are being, and will be, exposed to slavery in the coming decades.  

Second, they should develop targeted actions, at national and international levels, to address the issue. The global and regional discourse on development and climate policy must consider trafficking and slavery risks due to climate shocks.   

Third, several ongoing initiatives like Warsaw International Mechanism Task Force on Displacement (WIM TFD), the Sendai Framework, etc — should be coordinated to tackle the risk of climate-induced migration / displacement and exposure to modern slavery. 

Source: This post is based on the article ” Extreme weather events in India made women, children more vulnerable to modern slavery, flags report ” published in the Down to Earth on 21st September 2021. 

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