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Tackling poverty and modern slavery in Brazil

9 July 2019

Meeting in Cardiff University Glamorgan Building Council Chamber

The School of Social Sciences hosted visiting delegation of academics and public prosecutors from Brazil in June 2019 for a series of workshops and meetings to discuss the issues of poverty and modern slavery in Brazil.

The delegation included senior academics in the fields of constitutional law, human rights and education along with a prosectur from the Public Ministry of Labour, Gustavo Accioly.

Delegates came from the University of Campinas, the University of Sao Paulo, the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Faculdade de Direito do Sul de Minas, the Pontifical Catholic University and the University of Londrina.

The visit was part of a GCRF-funded project by Dr Will Baker and Dr Shailen Nandy on measuring multidimensional poverty in Brazil, and an ongoing collaboration between Cardiff University and the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), following the signing of a strategic partnership in December 2018.

A workshop was held to discuss the current situation of modern slavery in Brazil and the work being done to end the practice in the Brazilian fashion industry. Each speaker highlighted the enduring legacy of historic slavery in Brazil, and the persistent interplay of racism, poverty and modern slavery.

Andrew Davies, Senior Investigating Officer of the UK Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority, presented on the growing problem of modern slavery in the UK, and the many active investigations taking place in towns and cities throughout the country. Representatives attended from the Schools of Social Sciences, Journalism, Modern Languages, Law and Politics, and Business.

The week-long visit offered an opportunity to develop professional networks for researchers with a shared interest in poverty, human rights, homelessness and social justice. Joanna Mack, a visiting Senior Research Fellow at Bristol University, and Professor David Gordon, Director of the Townsend Institute for International Poverty Research and Bristol Poverty Institute met with the delegation in Cardiff and presented their work on several decades of poverty.

During this meeting they discussed how methods developed for use in the UK could be adapted and adopted to improve the measurement of multidimensional poverty in Brazil.

The delegation met with parliamentarians working on the issue of modern slavery, including Maria Miller MP and Florence Gildea, staff member for Frank Field MP, both of whom conducted a review of the UK Modern Slavery Act in 2015. They also met with Dr Malu Gatto of the UCL Institute of the Americas, and staff at Freedom Fund, one of the largest non-governmental organisations working to tackle modern slavery around the world.

Dr Will Baker, who organised the visit, said: ““The GCRF grant enabled me, as an early career academic, to successfully manage a project with international collaborators and experts in their fields. It has meant we can do important and impactful research with colleagues in Brazil, and developed relationships which will be of even greater relevance post-Brexit”.

Professor Ana Elisa Spaolonzi Queiroz Assis  of UNICAMP and  Faculdade de Direito do Sul de Minas, and PI for project in Brazil said: “It was a very important experience to develop this joint project between UNICAMP and Cardiff University granted by the GCRF. The theme – poverty and deprivation – is relevant in a global and local scale nowadays; knowing and using the Consensual Approach will improve our qualitative research perspectives on the subject.”