30 Million Modern Slaves around the World, Finds Global Index
IN FOCUS, 21 Oct 2013
Nearly 30 million people around the world are living as slaves, according to the Global Slavery Index 2013, a new index ranking 162 countries. Even, Iceland, Ireland and the UK are not slave-free. This is the first year of the GSI.
The index says India has the highest number of people living in conditions of slavery, which is estimated to have between 13,300,000 and 14,700,000 people enslaved. China, Pakistan and Nigeria also have the highest numbers of people enslaved.
Together with five other countries, the four – India, China, Pakistan and Nigeria – account for three-quarters of the total estimated number of people in modern slavery worldwide.
The report said India’s ranking was mostly due to the exploitation of Indians citizens within the country itself.
But Mauritania has the highest proportional figure with about 4% of its population enslaved.
Haiti is second in the index and Pakistan is third.
Many people inherit slave status from their ancestors.
The report hopes this exposure will help governments tackle the “hidden crime”.
The index compiled by Australian-based rights organization Walk Free Foundation used a definition of modern slavery that includes debt bondage, forced marriage and human trafficking includes slavery-like practices (such as debt bondage, forced marriage, and sale or exploitation of children), human trafficking and forced labor.
“A lot of governments won’t like hearing what we have to say,” WFF chief executive Nick Grono told AFP.
“Those governments that want to engage with us, we will be very open to engaging and looking at ways in which we can better measure the issue of modern slavery.”
The estimated 29.8 million slaves worldwide are higher than other attempts to quantify modern slavery. The ILO estimates that almost 21 million people are victims of forced labor.
The GSI provides a ranking of 162 countries, reflecting a combined measure of three factors: estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population, a measure of child marriage, and a measure of human trafficking in and out of a country.
The measure, according to the report, is heavily weighted to reflect the first factor, prevalence. A number one ranking indicates a more severely concentrated modern slavery situation; 160 shows the least.
In Mauritania, a country with a population of just 3.8 million, it is estimated that there are between 140,000 – 160,000 people enslaved. This ranking also reflects high levels of child marriage, and to a lesser extent, human trafficking.
Haiti, a Caribbean nation with a population of just 10.2 million and plagued by conflict, natural disaster and with deeply entrenched practices of child slavery, is second on the Index. This reflects high prevalence of modern slavery – an estimated 200,000 – 220,000 people are in modern slavery in Haiti. This ranking also reflects high levels of child marriage, and human trafficking from Haiti itself.
Pakistan, with a population of over 179 million and with its porous borders to Afghanistan, large populations of displaced persons and weak rule of law, is third on the Index. It is estimated that there are between 2,000,000 – 2,200,000 people in various forms of modern slavery in Pakistan,
It is estimated that there are between 4,200 – 4,600 people in modern slavery in the UK alone. The estimated size of the problem in Ireland and Iceland is much smaller, with Ireland estimated to have 300 – 340 people in modern slavery, and Iceland less than 100.
An analysis of the UK response on this issue confirms much more can be done, as the government response is fragmented and disjointed, and that there have been alarming systemic failures including the loss of trafficked children from care.
Countries with highest prevalence of modern slavery, according to ranking in the report, are the following:
1, Mauritania; 2, Haiti; 3, Pakistan; 4, India; 5, Nepal; 6, Moldova; 7, Benin; 8, Côte d’Ivoire; 9, The Gambia; and 10, Gabon. [From Table 1 of the report.]
Countries with lowest prevalence of modern slavery, according to ranking in the report, are the following:
150, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland; 159, New Zealand, 160, United Kingdom, Ireland and Iceland. [From Table 2 of the report]
The report said:
The country ranking shifts considerably when the estimated number of enslaved people is considered in absolute terms as a single factor.
The countries with the highest numbers of enslaved people are India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Taken together, these countries account for 76% of the total estimate of 29.8 million in modern slavery.
The India country study suggests that while this involves the exploitation of some foreign nationals, by far the largest proportion of this problem is the exploitation of Indians citizens within India itself, particularly through debt bondage and bonded labor.
The report said:
The country with the second highest absolute numbers of enslaved is China, with an estimated 2,800,000 to 3,100,000 in modern slavery.
The China country study suggests that this includes the forced labor of men, women and children in many parts of the economy including domestic servitude and forced begging, the sexual exploitation of women and children, and forced marriage.
The report added:
The country with the third highest absolute number in modern slavery is Pakistan, with an estimated 2,000,000 to 2,200,000 people in modern slavery.
Ten countries with highest estimated number of population in modern slavery, according to the report, are the following:
India (Estimate of population in modern slavery 13,956,010); China (2,949,243); Pakistan (2,127,132); Nigeria (701,032); Ethiopia (651,110); Russia (516,217); Thailand (472,811); Democratic Republic of the Congo (462,327); Myanmar (384,037); Bangladesh (343,192).
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