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Sandra Pertek, the SEREDA Researcher at IRiS, University of Birmingham, has been awarded U21 Seed Funding to continue her research on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and modern slavery.

She attended U21 ECR Conference on Modern Slavery, Forced Labour and Human Trafficking last month, collaborating with researchers from U21 network. She was invited to a trialogue on Gender and Violence to share her PhD findings. Sandra partnered with Wendy Stickle from the University of Maryland to work on a research project titled Untold Stories: Voices of Forced Migrants and Survivors of Modern Slavery on the Mediterranean. The project will engage with forced migrants and local organisations in Tunisia and Italy.

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 modern slavery in forced migration post-COVID-19. 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 and SDG 5.2 by enhancing evidence on violence against and exploitation of women and girls particularly from persons other than an intimate partner.