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Precarious Lives: Forced Labour, Exploitation and the UK Asylum System FLMG workshop January 9 th 2013 Drs Louise Waite, Hannah Lewis, Stuart Hodkinson.

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Presentation on theme: "Precarious Lives: Forced Labour, Exploitation and the UK Asylum System FLMG workshop January 9 th 2013 Drs Louise Waite, Hannah Lewis, Stuart Hodkinson."— Presentation transcript:

1 Precarious Lives: Forced Labour, Exploitation and the UK Asylum System FLMG workshop January 9 th 2013 Drs Louise Waite, Hannah Lewis, Stuart Hodkinson School of Geography, University of Leeds Prof Peter Dwyer School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work, University of Salford

2 Overview Background precarity, migration & forced labour/unfreedom Aim in-depth understanding of experiences of forced labour among asylum seekers and refugees living in UK Questions experiences and understandings of forced labour? routes into and out of forced labour? roles of socio-legal status, labour markets and gender? interventions, policies to tackle the issues?

3 Forced labour: international law International Labour Organization all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself [sic] voluntarily (Art. 2 ILO C. 29) ILO six indicators of forced labour (2005): Threats or actual physical harm Restriction of movement or confinement Debt bondage Withholding wages or excessive wage reductions Retention of passports and identity documents Threat of denunciation to the authorities > Is this conceptual and legal framework adequate?

4 Evidence we gathered Literature review and ongoing policy, legal, media data Socio-legal mapping Outreach activities and participant observation Over 100 visits to over 400 contacts 50 Interviews 30 Interviews with refugees and asylum seekers 20 Interviews with range of practitioners

5 Key findings 1.Forced labour present and exploitation rife 2. Dual role of asylum system -Harmful, and can be helpful -Journeys into and out of forced labour / exploitation 3.Fundamental relationship between labour experiences of asylum seekers and wider (global) political-economic system

6 1. Forced labour – withholding of wages Every Friday there was a new story, a new excuse… He would say things like ‘this week you haven’t worked hard enough, I’ve got no money and because you haven’t worked hard enough I haven’t sold anything’ or ‘I haven’t been able to do this’… sometimes he would say ‘the bank hasn’t given me any money so I can’t get any money out the bank’. There was always a new story, a new excuse. ‘Asanne’ – male, African (recycling factory)

7 1. Forced labour – denunciation threat We had been together for I think two years and then at the end… I was not happy the way she was treating me. And then she said ‘you started to talk now too much, you want control. You know what? You are asylum seeker, you don’t have any rights to live in this country. I will call immigration for you, I’ll call police to take you back… you can live in the garage - you are not sleeping in my bed anymore’. ‘Jay’ – male, African (domestic servitude)

8 1. Forced labour: multiple Confinement, threats of violence, denunciation, debt bondage I have to wake up very early, like six o-clock in the morning, prepare their breakfast, clean the house, give them showers… She never allowed me to go out... they lock the door... She said £10,000 that I have to… pay her for bringing me here… They would phone there and the men would come to the house and they were sleeping with me. And I said to her, I don’t like what she is doing to me, I want to go. And she said to me that if I go, then she is going to kill me... if I ever say to anyone that, they will send me back. ‘Happy’ – female, African

9 “…I been to appeal, and they refuse... my support …is cut… my friend just give a place for live, you know - for sleeping, eating. But I thinking better I doing something, I working somewhere… Because I don’t have a support this country, I don’t have a document for job… And, I searching for job in London. I doing so many job. I working in car wash… in building job… in take away… in pet shop. I doing anything because what can I do? I don’t have any support and… I need the money because if I want to take a… solicitor you know they need the money, I don’t have the money, and I don’t have anyone…” Siamak, male, Middle East 2. Harmful role of asylum-immigration system

10 2. Harmful / helpful dual role of asylum system Harmful Asylum seekers Pressure to earn No Right to work Refused asylum seekers Enforced destitution Refugees Barriers to decent employment Helpful e.g. Trafficked Undocumented/ smuggled Access to service providers

11 3. Wider political-economic system MenMen and womenWomen More commercial Construction Convenience stores and other shops Care, residential homes More visible/ public Catering: takeaways, restaurants, dishwashing, leafleting Agriculture, forestry Care, domestic space: children and elderly Processing, packing: food, clothes, manufactured goods CleaningHair braiding ‘Handy man’, mechanic Sexual exploitation, sex work Domestic servitude More informal SmugglingSale of illicit goods, drugs; electronics Transactional sexLess visible/ private

12 Role of service providers? (initial findings) High levels of isolation Listening outside categories – Holistic provision – Walking out and walking back in ‘Indicators’ approach? – trigger words – complexity Destitution: basic needs provision

13 Precarious lives: refugees and asylum seekers’ experiences of forced labour Fuller findings available in 2013


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