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The Freedom Fund and Harvard University launch new research in India

October 24, 2014 / Blog, Northern India The Freedom Fund / @freedom_fund

We are excited to announce a grant to Dr Jacqueline Bhabha and her team at Harvard’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights to study a promising anti-slavery model in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Dr Bhabha’s research will focus on the work of one of the Freedom Fund’s Indian partners, Manav Sansadhan Evam Mahila Vikas Sansthan (MSEMVS), whose programs aim to liberate whole communities of low-caste families from debt bondage to local land and factory owners.

Handmade Bricks - Rajasthan. March 2014 Harvard Study

Handmade Bricks – Rajasthan. March 2014

Over the past decade, MSEMVS has achieved some impressive results, eliminating slavery in dozens of villages where it was previously endemic. Earlier this year, MSEMVS’ director, Bhanuja Sharan-Lal, was honoured by the U.S. State Department as a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Hero.

However, no large-scale study has been done to document these results and to understand what factors in the MSEMVS model – or the villages themselves – contribute to, or hinder, success. This information could be of tremendous value to other frontline NGOs and indeed the wider anti-slavery movement.

The study will also attempt to quantify the socio-economic benefits to eliminating slavery, sometimes known as the “freedom dividend”. Smaller studies and anecdotal evidence suggest communities experience significant boosts to income, health and education when they are from freed from bonded labour, but there is little in the way of rigorous research on this subject.

We hope to have results to share in the middle of next year.