Researchers in England are hoping to help root out modern-day slavery in northern India by using detailed satellite imagery to locate brick kilns — sites that are notorious for using millions of slaves, including children.
A team of geospatial experts at the University of Nottingham use Google Maps and dozens of volunteers to identify potential sites of exploitation and report them to authorities.
“The key thing at the moment is to get those statistics right and to get the locations of the brick kilns sorted,” said Doreen Boyd, a co-researcher on the “Slavery from Space” project.
“There are certainly activists on the ground that will help us in terms of getting the statistics and the locations of these brick kilns to [government] officials.”
Anti-slavery activists said the project could be useful in identifying remote kilns or mines that would otherwise escape public or official scrutiny.
“But there are other, more pressing challenges like tackling problematic practices, including withheld wages, lack of transparent accounting … no enforcement of existing labor laws,” said Jakub Sobik, spokesman at Anti-Slavery, a London-based nongovernmental organization.
Millions of people in India are believed to be living in slavery. Despite a 1976 ban on bonded labor, the practice remains widespread at brick kilns, rice mills and brothels, among others.
The majority of victims belong to low-income families or marginalized castes like the Dalits or “untouchables.”
Nearly 70 percent of brick kiln workers in South Asia are estimated to be working in bonded and forced labor, according to a 2016 report by the International Labor Organization. About a fifth of those are underage.
The project relies on crowdsourcing, a process where volunteers sift through thousands of satellite images to identify possible locations of kilns. Each image is shown to multiple volunteers, who mark kilns independently.
The team is currently focused on an area of 2,600 square kilometers in the desert state of Rajasthan — teeming with brick-making sites — and plans to scale up the project in the coming years.
Researchers are now in talks with satellite companies to get access to more detailed images, rather than having to rely on publicly available Google Maps.
The project is one of several anti-slavery initiatives run by the university, which include research on slave labor-free supply chains and human trafficking.
News Courtesy: VOA NEWS
An Indian charity is using big data to pinpoint human trafficking hot spots in a bid to prevent vulnerable women and girls vanishing from high-risk villages into the sex trade.
My Choices Foundation uses specially designed technology to identify those villages that are most at risk of modern slavery, then launches local campaigns to sound the alarm.
“The general Indian public is still largely unaware that trafficking exists, and most parents have no idea that their children are actually being sold into slavery,” said Elca Grobler, the founder of My Choices Foundation.
“That’s why grass-roots awareness and education at the village level is so important to ending the human traffic trade,” Grobler said in a statement released late Tuesday.
The analytics tool — developed by Australian firm Quantium — uses a range of factors to identify the most dangerous villages.
It draws on India’s census, education and health data and factors such as drought risk, poverty levels, education and job opportunities to identify vulnerable areas.
There are an estimated 46 million people enslaved worldwide, with more than 18 million living in India, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index. The Index was compiled by the Walk Free Foundation, a global organization seeking to end modern slavery.
Many are villagers lured by traffickers with the promise of a good job and an advance payment, only to find themselves or their children forced to work in fields or brick kilns, enslaved in brothels and sold into sexual slavery.
Almost 20,000 women and children were victims of human trafficking in India in 2016, a rise of nearly 25 percent from the previous year, according to government data.
While India has strengthened its anti-trafficking policy in recent years, activists say a lack of public awareness remains one of the biggest impediments.
In 2014, My Choices Foundation launched “Operation Red Alert,” offering educational programs to inform parents, teachers, village leaders and children about traffickers.
But with more than 600,000 villages across India and limited resources, the charity teamed up with Quantium to build the new data tool and use methods old and new to fight the criminals.
“We are helping to banish human trafficking, one village at a time, through a combination of highly sophisticated technology and grass-roots … education,” said Grobler.
Text Courtesy: VOA NEWS
Disclaimer: All pictures (sometimes website links) which not owned by Shanthanubh’s Desk that appear on this site are the property of their respective owners, who may or may not be affiliated with, connected to, or sponsored by Shanthanubh’s Desk. However,most of the pictures are royalty free/Public Domain.We use photographs for representational purposes.It is only for to create awareness and educational purposes.
Featured Image Credit: George Hodan