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Modern slavery helpline urgently needed in New Zealand – ECPAT

A dedicated modern slavery helpline for New Zealand survivors is urgently recommended, according to an international advocacy organisation.

In a recent report by The Slave Check Foundation, 58% of the people surveyed said that when they initially reached out for help from different organisations like helplines, the police, and medical services, they weren’t acknowledged as being in a situation of modern slavery.

The report is based on in-depth consultation with 12 survivors of modern slavery and trafficking in Australia and New Zealand, who shared their experiences of human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, sexual servitude and child marriage.

Acting Director of ECPAT Child Alert New Zealand, Synteche Collins who was involved in the study, says New Zealand urgently needs a dedicated helpline for survivors of trafficking and slavery that would help them to understand their rights, access ongoing support and identify dangerous situations.

“The research shows what a difficult and challenging journey it is for survivors seeking help to escape their situation. Many are unsure if they will meet the criteria for modern slavery; whether they will be believed or whether they will be able to access the help they need,” says Ms Collins.

As a New Zealand survivor explained in the report. “There is a fear that if one DOES seek support – will they be believed? Will their request for confidentiality, anonymity be respected? Will they be protected? There is always a fear of retribution – whether real or unreal.”

Another New Zealand survivor explained that, “Initially, as a child, I did not understand that my situation was wrong. I thought that it was a normal life condition and that I had to do whatever I was told. I am a survivor of child marriage and forced labour.”

Add here some context of the situation in NZ – many people won’t be aware this is a problem. Some sort of international report showing the scale of trafficking and exploitation, any progress made already, and/or do most other countries have these?

What would be involved in setting one up and who should do it?

Ms Collins is urging the New Zealand government to heed the report’s recommendations and resource a dedicated helpline and streamlined pathway for victim-survivors. “It could make a tangible difference for victims, giving them the support they really need to get away from harmful situations.”

 

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