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 provided direct legal and social services, as well as informal emotional support through our PROMISE Central group meetings, for hundreds of these migrant domestic workers, from dozens of countries, for more than 13 years. The project also helped raise awareness of the problem of exploitation of domestic workers in the World Bank, IMF and other international organizations, and was a key advocate for new domestic worker protection policies in these institutions.
For more on Break the Chain Campaign’s history from 1997-2011, please see this report compiled by BTCC Advocacy Intern Celia Garcia-Perez: “Break the Chain Campaign, Historical Overview: 1997-2011″
Currently, we focus on research, writing, policy advocacy, and training, all based on our direct service experience and our commitment to a rights-based approach. We focus on three overlapping areas of work, based on our history of direct services to migrant domestic workers who have been trafficked and exploited:
Human Trafficking, Domestic Worker Rights, and Immigration/Gender
Break the Chain is a leader in the Freedom Network – a national network of nearly 30 anti-trafficking direct service organizations that 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 ally of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and work on several projects related to international, national, and local campaigns focused on improving the lives of domestic workers in the US and around the world.
Because we are situated in a multi-issue think tank at the Institute for Policy Studies, we are constantly working to deepen the connections between our work and the parallel movements of human rights, immigrant rights, worker rights, climate justice, trade and tax fairness, and democracy in order to identify root causes and sustainable solutions to end human trafficking and domestic worker exploitation in the US and around the world.