First Global Slavery Index Estimates 29.8 Million Enslaved Worldwide

Global Slavery

Naushad Mohammad, 10, in Bihar, India. © The Legatum Foundation

A Brief Overview

This is the first edition of the Global Slavery Index produced by the Walk Free Foundation and its partners. It is the first Index of its kind – providing an estimate, country by country, of the number of people living in modern slavery today. The Global Slavery Index 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 is heavily weighted to reflect the first factor, prevalence. A number one ranking is the worst, 160 is the best.

Mauritania, a West African nation with deeply entrenched hereditary slavery, is ranked number 1 in the Index. This reflects the high prevalence of slavery in Mauritania – it is estimated that there are between 140,000 – 160,000 people enslaved in Mauritania, a country with a population of just 3.8 million. This ranking also reflects high levels of child marriage, and to a lesser extent, human trafficking.

Haiti, a Caribbean nation plagued by conflict, natural disaster and with deeply entrenched practices of child slavery (the restavek system), 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, a country with a population of just 10.2 million. This ranking also reflects high levels of child marriage, and human trafficking from Haiti itself.

Pakistan, 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, a country with a population of over 179 million.

Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom are tied with a ranking of 160 in the Index. This does not mean these countries are slavery free. On the contrary, it is estimated that there are between 4,200 – 4,600 people in modern slavery in the United Kingdom 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.

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Estimated Number of Population in Modern Slavery

The Global Slavery Index also provides insight into the estimated absolute numbers of people in modern slavery, in 162 countries. When the estimated number of enslaved people is considered in absolute terms as a single factor, the country ranking shifts considerably.

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 country with the largest estimated number of people in modern slavery is India, which is estimated to have between 13,300,000 and 14,700,000 people enslaved. 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 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 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.

Summary, Full Report: The Global Slavery Index 2013 | Walk Free Foundation

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