Forced migrants often experience modern slavery and trafficking across migration pathways. With high levels of structural and interpersonal violence, many are trapped in exploitative relationships. The project aims to support survivors to share their stories in safe ways and shape policy and interventions at different stages of migration. Using participatory and survivor-centred methods, the project will examine the coping mechanisms of forced migrant survivors of human trafficking and SGBV in protracted migration, and vulnerability to SGBV, modern slavery & trafficking in forced migration post-COVID-19.


Using participatory and survivor-centred methods, our objectives are:

  • To qualitatively examine the relationship between modern slavery and forced migration post COVID-19;
  • To understand the impact of modern slavery on migrants’ ability to cope with precarity in protracted migration;
  • To understand the factors shaping migrants’ exposure to modern slavery and migrants’ ability to continue their journeys;
  • To help shape policy and practice, through amplifying survivors’ voices.

We will build upon the existing dataset from Tunisia with migrants whose journeys got interrupted, engaging several survivors on voluntary basis, and will collect data in Italy from those who crossed the Mediterranean Sea for comparison.


The project integrates perspectives from the development-humanitarian-migration nexus and contributes to SDG 8.7. by helping to better understand modern slavery and trafficking in forced migration. Due to the highly gendered nature of the researched phenomenon, our approach is intersectional with SDG 5.2 (‘end all violence against and exploitation of women and girls’), with focus on 5.2.2 (‘end violence against women from persons other than an intimate partner’). The project enhances evidence on violence against and exploitation of women and girls by supporting survivors’ voices, confidence and activism.

The research outputs will be accessible on social platforms to enable the public to better understand the realities of forced migrant survivors.

The Project Team

Sandra Pertek
Research Fellow
University of Birmingham
Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS), SEREDA Project
Wendy Stickle
Director, Undergraduate Criminology and Criminal Justice Program, Senior Lecturer
University of Maryland
Project collaborations
Marco Caputo, Researcher, LESS
Sana Zoubli, Communication Consultant
Mohamed Ait Eljaouadi, Front-end Developer