Summer of Stats

Summer of Stats

August 2016

Dr Sarah Kyambi

University of Edinburgh

This summer sees the increasingly predictable round of statistics on trafficking and exploitation and the critique of those statistics.  The US Department of States’ Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) for 2016 was published in June and the Global Slavery Index (GSI) figures were released this month.

The difficulties of attempting to measure clandestine phenomena are evident and debates rumble on regarding the methods for measuring trafficking and the uses to such such indices are put. For example, the GSI relies on proxy indicators and proxy comparators as shorthand for extrapolating vulnerability across countries. Several commetators have critiqued the GSI and how the GSI is used including Anne T Gallagher recently and DemandAT’s Siobhan McGrath and Fiabiola Mieres back in 2014. 

The less than noble factors also affect rankings in the TIP which is affected by and reflects political and diplomatic ties. The Guardian newspaper (UK) notes:

‘The report [the TIP], which has been published since 2001, is the principal diplomatic tool with which the US engages foreign governments on human trafficking. However, a Reuters investigation last year claimed that senior US diplomats had repeatedly overruled the State Department’s anti-trafficking unit and inflated the grades of 14 strategically important countries, with US lawmakers and anti-trafficking groups calling for reforms.’

However, August also saw the most recent instalment of the IOM Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevalence Indication Survey on the 12th. This survey has been conducted as part of IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) flow monitoring operations since December 2015 and while the figures provide hard reading:

'76 percent of respondents answered positively to at least one of the trafficking and other exploitative practices indicators based on their own direct experience during their journey, including: having worked or performed activities without getting the payment they expected; being forced to perform work or other activities against their will; being approached by someone offering employment; being approached by someone offering to arrange a marriage; and, being held at a location against their will by parties other than any relevant governmental authorities'.

For more analysis seehere.  However, while limited in focus, these figures are also important in that they provide facts that actually look like data in what continues to be a rather ‘data-lite’ field.

The views expressed in this news item do not necessarily express the views of the DemandAT project consortium as a whole