Break the Chain Campaign

Break The Chain Campaign seeks to prevent and address the abuse and exploitation of migrant women workers through holistic direct services, leadership training, community engagement and survivor-driven outreach and training.

The Institute Policy Studies started Break the Chain Campaign (BTCC) in 1997 after an expose in the Washington City Paper by IPS Fellow Martha Honey (entitled “Capital Slaves”), which chronicled the lives of women living in virtual slavery while working as domestic servants for officials of the World Bank and other international agencies.

Upon discovering the extent of exploitation of migrant women workers in the D.C. metropolitan area, the BTCC project expanded beyond reporting to better serve and empower these women. The project has provided legal, moral, economic and other support for hundreds of these migrant domestic workers, from dozens of countries, for over a decade. The project also helped raise awareness of the problem of exploitation of domestic workers in the World Bank and other agencies, and was a key advocate for new policies in these agencies.

Today, the project is a leader in the Freedom Network – a national network of anti-trafficking organizations, which greatly contributed to the creation of current legislation protecting the rights of victims of human trafficking, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and its reauthorization in 2008. We are also a key partner with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, bringing the domestic worker rights lens to trafficking work, and vice versa.

Currently, we focus on research, writing, policy advocacy, and training, all based on our 14 years of direct service experience and our commitment to a rights-based approach.

Latest Work

Reflections from India

Tiffany Williams, who has led IPS’ work on labor and human trafficking for more than a decade, reflects on a recent trip to India.

Bangladeshi Workers Organize to Protect Their Most Valuable Export: Themselves

Migrant domestic workers from Bangladesh enjoy little protection from their government, but they’re not alone.

Mental Healthcare: Underappreciated and Underfunded

While Medicaid coverage may be expanding in some states, the program’s funding for mental health care services remains at risk.

Domestic Workers Deserve Protection: Hold Diplomats Like Khobragade to Account

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was clearly mistreated by U.S. officers, but what about the abuse that migrant domestic workers live through every day?

It Can’t Happen Here

Au pairs may get an experience they didn’t bargain for when they head for a stint in the United States.

Human Trafficking and Immigration: The Ties That Bind

President Obama has declared January as “National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month,” and immigration will be near the top of President Obama’s political agenda in his second term.

Key Facts from “The Dual Mandate: Immigration Enforcement and Human Trafficking”

Between 14,500 and 17,500 persons are trafficked into the country each year and that approximately 50,000 trafficked individuals may be present at any given time.

What Will Excluded Workers Celebrate Next Labor Day?

After this year’s celebrations of workers’ history, it’s time to focus on the ongoing fights for the rights of domestic workers, direct care workers, and guest workers.

Supreme Court Side-Steps Hate, Racial Profiling in Arizona

The Supreme Court’s decision on Arizona’s immigration laws addresses part of the issue. But let’s name the elephant in the room: Racism.

Organizing Across Generations

Our allies talk to Bill Moyers about restoring domestic workers’ rights and the 99% Spring.

Criminal Moms

Even as a social worker focused on the intersection of violence, ethnicity, immigration status, and the workplace for most of my career, the stories I heard on this trip overwhelmed me.

A Step Forward for Guestworkers in the United States

Earlier this month, the Department of Labor announced new protections for guestworkers with a temporary work permit.

Those Bad Old Days Are Still with Us

“The Help” is drawing attention to today’s domestic workers.

Protecting Guest Workers in the United States

Hershey’s chocolate packing plant is in at the center of a dispute related to a “summer work travel visa” with little opportunity beyond mere survival.

A Wish for the Holidays: Children’s Voices Ringing through the Halls of Congress

5,000 letters from children across the country symbolize the need to address the flaws of the immigration and deportation systems.

The Power of Poetry

Poets resist anti-immigration laws with defiance, beauty, and social media.

Obama: Selectively Honoring MLK

While the President honored MLK’s work for civil rights and economic justice, he did not mention King’s equally important work against the Vietnam War and U.S. militarism.

Why Women? Why Now? Looking at Gender and Immigration

A local woman’s struggle with immigration enforcement highlights the need for a closer look at how tough laws affects migrant women.