Neil Howard is Prize Fellow in International Development at the University of Bath, where he is part of the Research Cluster on SDG 8. His research focusses on the governance of ‘unfree labour’ and in particular the various forms of it targeted for eradication by 8.7. He conducts ethnographic research with people defined as victims of trafficking, slavery, child labour and forced labour, and political anthropological research on the institutions that seek to protect them. Neil asks why ‘victims’ are so often excluded from the policy process and tries to make sense of the way that policy-making institutions think, work and navigate their political limitations. His recent book on child trafficking and anti-trafficking policy is here. Neil is the Founding Editor of the Beyond Trafficking and Slavery website, which is a critical platform publishing radical scholarship on exploitation and domination, and has featured the work hundreds of researchers over the past four years. He also sits on the Steering Committee of the Children and Work Network, which brings together scholars and practitioners from over 100 countries concerned with children, their work and the policies that affect them. Neil’s monthly column will include reflections from his own ongoing research in a number of countries, along with contributions from a broad range of fellow scholars.