Fighting Forced Labour through Journalism

by Stephanie Klotz on Feb 24, 2016

The Thomson Reuters Foundation, in partnership with C&A Foundation, has unveiled a brand new initiative aimed at raising awareness of trafficking and forced labour across South Asia.

Launched today, the three-year partnership includes the creation of the very first editorial desk entirely dedicated to coverage of forced labour, together with in-depth training aimed at reporters in local newsrooms.

With presence in Chennai and Mumbai, the new editorial desk will shed light onto one of the world's most under-reported issues, producing original content highlighting topics ranging from bonded and forced labour, to supply chain exploitation to sex trafficking.

“South Asia is a hotspot for trafficking and forced labour, with more than half of the world's modern-slaves, one in three of which are children”, says Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO Monique Villa, who has personally spearheaded the initiative. “Through fair and accurate reporting, the partnership with C&A Foundation will contribute to put slavery at the top of the political agenda, putting pressure on governments to act, and holding companies to account”, she added.

“We are excited about our partnership with the Thomson Reuters Foundation because of its potential to shine a spotlight and promote new conversations on issues of forced labour and trafficking. Investigative journalism is powerful. It can amplify victims' voices, highlight models for reform, and tackle the underlying social norms that perpetuate exploitation”, says Head of Gender Justice and Human Rights for C&A Foundation Brandee Butler.


The stories produced by the Thomson Reuters Foundation anti-trafficking desk will be distributed globally via the Reuters media network reaching a potential audience of 1 billion readers daily. In addition, all editorial content will be translated in Hindi and Tamil and made available free of charge to leading anti-trafficking NGOs across South Asia.

In order to guarantee the highest possible dissemination, all stories will be distributed extensively across social media and made available globally through news.trust.org, the Thomson Reuters Foundation's news portal, from where content can be reproduced free of charge. A newsletter with the week's top anti-trafficking stories will be launched internationally, together with ad-hoc news alerts to ensure different audiences are reached.

In addition to the editorial initiative, the Thomson Reuters Foundation also trains journalists on effective strategies to reporting human trafficking and forced labour. The training course covers issues ranging from libel, to human rights reporting and privacy law.

The first of such courses launches in Mumbai on 11 April with a panel discussion on the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh, which killed 1,135 workers manufacturing garments for Western retailers.

Forced labor is on the rise globally. Leading anti-slavery NGO Walk Free puts the number of people living in condition of modern-day slavery at 35.8 million. Despite being universally illegal, forced labour generates yearly revenues worth some $150 billion, according to the International Labour Organization of the UN.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation anti-trafficking newsletter is available here.

Image credit: Joerg Boethling

““Through fair and accurate reporting, the partnership with C&A Foundation will contribute to put slavery at the top of the political agenda, putting pressure on governments to act, and holding companies to account"”

Monique Villa