Jeanne Devos – Belgium

Linked with GlobalGiving, with Miseror, and with Anti-Slavery International.

She is She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “I have always been interested in human rights and the dignity of every person. I felt that my actions should empower the most vulnerable and discriminated. For this reason I opted for domestic workers, be it women or children, because they have no voice, no rights. This corresponds to my understanding of slavery. What got me working was the inhuman situation of those women and children. It touched and hurt me as a woman. The urgency started after meeting the 13-year-old girl Sangeeta who was raped, pregnant and had aborted, without understanding what had happened to her” … and: “For children the time is now”.

She says also: “I have not grown tired of fighting for a full life for every domestic worker. It is my vision of a peaceful future to get domestic workers out of slavery into human dignity and justice”.

Download: A handbook on good practice in programme interventions, from Anti-Slavery International 2005.

See her website in netherlandse.


Jeanne Devos – Belgium

Read: “Ik ben kritischer dan Moeder Theresa“.

She works for the Welfare Trust for Women and Child Domestic Workers, (named on, and on GlobalGiving), for the National Domestic Worker’s Movement NDWM, and for Misereor.

Jeanne Devos on the netherlandse wikipedia.

Sr. Jeanne Devos (born 1935) has dedicated her life to the rights of children in Mumbai, India since 1965. In 1985, she founded the network National Domestic Workers’ Movement NDWM in Mumbai. Today she is co-coordinator of this growing movement against slavery of women and children in 18 Indian states. As a deputy of the Bishops Conference of India to the United Nations and UNICEF conferences, she fights against child labor, child trafficking, child prostitution, and child soldiers. On her initiative, the NDWM has also done relief work in the areas of India hit by the tsunami of December 2004.
She has a degree in theology from the University of Leuven, Belgium, and is a psychologist.

In 1985, I founded the network National Domestic Workers´Movement in Bombay to break slavery. Today this movement in India works in 18 states and 28 languages. The strategies are based on personal contact and breaking isolation, organizing domestic workers in groups to build solidarity, crisis intervention, legal aid; providing educational opportunities, campaign against trafficking, and public awareness.

We believe that individual and group empowerment is the main objective of the movement. We work from a human rights and child rights approach. The main obstacles the network faces are the privacy of private homes, the invisibility of domestic workers, the power of money in a system that wants cheap labor, and traditional myths that hide slavery.

We get our strength from the resilience and collective power of domestic workers and team work. What helps me in achieving goals are perseverance, community, family, spirituality, my vision of a new life for domestic workers. I have different roles: friend of domestic workers, co-coordinator, and representing the movement, community person, advisor and administrator, fund raiser, bridge person between regions and countries. (1000PeaceWomen).

Read: Silent Victims, May 7, 2006.

What is modern slavery:

  • For many people, the image that comes to mind when they hear the word slavery is the slavery of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. We think of the buying and selling of people, their shipment from one continent to another and the abolition of the trade in the early 1800s. Even if we know nothing about the slave trade, it is something we think of as part of our history rather than our present. But the reality is slavery continues TODAY;
  • Millions of men, women and children around the world are forced to lead lives as slaves. Although this exploitation is often not called slavery, the conditions are the same. People are sold like objects, forced to work for little or no pay and are at the mercy of their ‘employers’;
  • Slavery exists today despite the fact that it is banned in most of the countries where it is practised. It is also prohibited by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery. Women from eastern Europe are bonded into prostitution, children are trafficked between West African countries and men are forced to work as slaves on Brazilian agricultural estates. Contemporary slavery takes various forms and affects people of all ages, sex and race. (full text).

Read: Towards honouring the dignity of labour, August 31, 2006.

See also: The National Domestic Worker’s Movement NDWM emphasises that all domestic work has dignity as it is an indirect participation in production and contributes to the quality of life. 1. Stands for personnel dignity of each domestic worker. 2. Gives priority to the empowerment of domestic workers among its many activities. 3. Work towards obtaining rights and justice for domestic workers. (full text).


Jeanne Devos Museum, Wormhout;

Jeanne Devos Foundation, same in netherlandse.


Kampuskrant International.

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