Arun Kumar Acharya
Written by Katie Quinn, CJR Student Initiatives Coordinator
Dr. Arun Kumar Acharya is a well-established researcher whose passion for human trafficking research shows through his work. Up until 2018, Arun taught and conducted research on sex trafficking at the Universidad Autonoma of Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, Mexico for 12 years. Arun is also the founder of the Mexican Center for Migration and Human Trafficking Studies in Monterrey. During his time in Mexico, he has published more than 50 research papers in journals worldwide and has published 6 books on human trafficking in Mexico. Since his time in Monterrey, he decided to shift gears and move back to East India where he has started conducting research on labor trafficking.
When discussing his transition from sex trafficking research to labor trafficking, Acharya said that one of the biggest reasons for the move was the lack of research in labor trafficking. In East India, thousands and thousands of families, mainly in the lower class, move to areas where labor trafficking is plentiful because they need jobs. Since COVID-19, the demand has increased exponentially and the traffickers are no longer just taking the males, but whole families with them as well. Acharya saw this problem increasing and dove into conducting research in hopes to help the families being exploited.
Acharya first became aware of human trafficking when pursuing his master’s in Gender Equity in Mumbai, India. Upon starting his program at a University in Mumbai, the largest red-light district in Asia, he frequently saw women on the street and began questioning why they were there. To encourage these thoughts, trafficking became a discussion about gender equity, and Acharya knew this was something he felt called to educate himself. From there he pursued a Ph.D. in Mexico, however, whenever he expressed interest in human trafficking, he was frequently shut down due to a lack of awareness of the severity of trafficking in Mexico. He decided to continue his course regardless, and in 2006 he presented his thesis on sex trafficking and started working with the Mexican government on strategies to fight it.
In the 20 years that Arun Kumar Acharya spent working on human trafficking research, significant changes and improvements in trafficking laws have been made on a global scale. One of the greatest moments in his research career was in 2015 when he was invited to attend a conference in D.C. to present on the “Fragility of the Mexican State and Gender Inequality: The Case of Trafficking in Women.” During this conference, he discussed his research and the conflict of how sex trafficking is only being addressed as an issue of migration and should also be addressed as a health and gender equity problem. This moment changed the focus of his research and encouraged him to focus on labor trafficking as well.
Conducting research on trafficking in Mexico is not an easy job, and Acharya shares his personal difficulties working as a researcher throughout the years, “One of the biggest challenges is threats.” He explains how situations easily escalated during his studies and how he was threatened several times in the past. However, Acharya took these experiences and turned them into motivation. He expresses that if he is getting threatened for trying to have a conversation, the girls he is trying to help must be facing much worse. The idea of helping women out of these situations and giving them the opportunities to create a better future is the main reason Acharya is in this line of work and it motivates him to keep pursuing it every day.
In the next few years, Acharya is excited to lean into labor trafficking research in India and hopes to attend many more research conferences globally. In attending research conferences he hopes to continue building a network of people to learn from and grow together as human trafficking research continues to multiply.
Building Slavery-free Communities: A Resilience Framework
Alison Gardner , Phil Northall & Ben Brewster
There is growing interest in the use of community-based approaches to address the causes of modern slavery and the related goal of building anti-slavery ‘resilience.’ However, the concept of resilience is often poorly understood and applied without attention to the specific challenges of anti-slavery policy and practice. This paper provides a conceptual framework for understanding the process and outcomes of building resilience against contemporary forms of slavery within place-based communities. Inspired by established ecological models of resilience, we propose an adaptive ‘resilience cycle’ that activists and policymakers can draw upon to inform the process of designing and delivering policy interventions. This process is combined with a review of evidence about the multi-level social determinants of modern slavery to suggest a framework of topic areas for local review and measurement, as a means to assess existing gaps and assets, enable comparative learning, and measure progress toward goals. We also outline a future research agenda exploring locally grounded perspectives on modern slavery risk and resilience, to improve understanding of the factors underpinning resilience across different social and economic contexts.
This article will assist policy-makers by clarifying the concept of anti-slavery resilience, which can in turn inform policy design and implementation, and help to make connections between disparate initiatives from multiple actors. By combining a process for building resilience with an overview of social determinants underpinning a slavery-free community, a basis for gap-analysis and ongoing measurement is offered. The research agenda outlined to better understand factors underpinning resilience would make a valuable contribution to improving anti-slavery governance and assist in developing a better understanding of the linkages between achieving Sustainable Development Goal target 8.71 and wider sustainable development goals.
Gardner, Alison, et al. “Building Slavery-Free Communities: A Resilience Framework.” Journal of Human Trafficking, vol. 7, no. 3, 2020, pp. 338–353., doi:10.1080/23322705.2020.
Narco-violence, forced displacement, and sex trafficking: a qualitative study in Mexico
Arun Kumar Acharya & Jennifer Bryson Clark
During the last decade, over 160,000 people were forcibly displaced internally because of narco-violence in Mexico. Displaced families suffer social and economic vulnerabilities that make them easy prey for trafficking and exploitation. This paper analyzes the association between forced displacement caused by narco-violence and trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation in Mexico. Data was gathered from 16 victims of forced displacement and trafficking in Monterrey, Mexico. The findings show that traffickers use different tricks and promises to trap displaced young girls and women, including orphans, children, and widows, and force them into sexual exploitation.
Acharya, Arun Kumar, and Jennifer Bryson Clark. “Narco-Violence, Forced Displacement, and Sex Trafficking: A Qualitative Study in Mexico.” Global Crime, vol. 22, no. 3, 2021, pp. 205–221., doi:10.1080/17440572.2021.
Migrant Worker Safety, Occupational Health Equity, and Labor Trafficking
Jaya Prakash, Inkyu Kim, Timothy B. Erickson, Hanni Stoklosa
The US Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 has helped reduce workplace fatalities and injuries. However, fatalities in migrant workers have disproportionately increased. This editorial discusses 1) how inequitably beneficial this health law has been for migrant workers 2) the unique occupational health risks labor trafficked migrants face 3) the role public health can play in addressing the needs of labor-trafficked migrant workers. Physical and emotional hazards, intrinsic to the notably dangerous occupations, are disproportionately felt by migrant workers due to systemic barriers including but not limited to economic hardship and coercion, language barriers, fear of legal repercussions, lack of protective equipment, racism and xenophobia. Labor trafficked workers also face additional significant occupational health risks and barriers to accessing medical care. Recommendations to protect labor trafficked migrant workers involve improvements in research, policy, medical education, and health care delivery are presented.
Prakash J, Kim I, Erickson T, Stoklosa H. Migrant worker safety, occupational health equity, and labor trafficking. HPHR. 2021; 33.
Human Trafficking: What the New IOM Dataset Reveals
Cassandra E. DiRienzo
In 2017, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released its global, de-identified database of human trafficking victims, the largest database of its kind, containing over 50,000 individual cases from 2002 to 2018. This study analyzes this new database with two objectives. First, it provides an overview and descriptive statistics of the entire database, including a year by year analysis. Acknowledging that at most 17 annual data points exist for any one variable, empirical analyzes are not used; rather the focus is on general patterns in the data. These general patterns are described, and hypothesized explanations for these patterns are offered. Second, given that Polaris is the sole data source for human trafficking in the United States, a year by year breakdown of the United States’ data is also included. This analysis is used to assess the types of trafficking and the socio-demographics of victims who are more likely to be identified and reported as human trafficking victims within the United States. This study compares, both globally and within the United States, the frequency of the socio-demographics of the victims and types of exploitation that are identified against estimated actual prevalence rates and relates these findings to media messaging and foci of anti-trafficking campaigns.
DiRienzo, Cassandra E. “Human Trafficking: What the New IOM Dataset Reveals.” Journal of Human Trafficking, 2020, pp. 1–15., doi:10.1080/23322705.2020.