The Global Slavery Index 2013 measures the size of the modern slavery problem, country by country. The Index provides a quantitative ranking of 162 countries around the world according to the estimated prevalence of modern slavery (that is, the estimated percentage of enslaved people in the national population at a point in time). The Index is constructed from three quantitative indicators on prevalence, one of which was generated internally (estimated prevalence of slavery), and two of which are based on an analysis of pre-existing data from UNICEF and the US Trafficking in Persons report.
The second section, on the risk of modern slavery, analyses risk based on an assessment of 31 qualitative and quantitative indicators that reflect five key dimensions: a country’s anti-slavery policies; a country’s respect for human rights; a country’s level of human and economic development; the stability of the government and the institutions of the country; and the level of discrimination against women in a country. All of these indicators are generated externally by respected sources and were selected by the research team on the basis of statistical testing for their relationship to the prevalence of slavery.
The third section, on government responses to slavery analyses the strength of government responses, and includes country studies for 20 countries. These studies describe the problem, government responses, and action needed. Additional country studies are on the website. Future editions of the report will examine responses of all countries listed in the Index.
In 2013, modern slavery takes many forms, and is known by many names: slavery, forced labour or human trafficking.
‘Slavery’ refers to the condition of treating another person as if they were property – something to be bought, sold, traded or even destroyed.
‘Forced labour’ is a related but not identical concept, referring to work taken without consent, by threats or coercion.
‘Human trafficking’ is another related concept, referring to the process through which people are brought, through deception, threats or coercion, into slavery, forced labour or other forms of severe exploitation.
Whatever term is used, the significant characteristic of all forms of modern slavery is that it involves one person depriving another people of their freedom: their freedom to leave one job for another, their freedom to leave one workplace for another, their freedom to control their own body.
How did the researchers define modern slavery when they were estimating prevalence country by country?
Slavery is the possession and control of a person in such a way as to significantly deprive that person of his or her individual liberty, with the intent of exploiting that person through their use, management, profit, transfer or disposal. Usually this exercise will be achieved through means such as violence or threats of violence, deception and/or coercion.
Why is the Index not using one of the modern slavery definitions from the international conventions such as the UN Trafficking Protocol which most countries have signed up to?
‘Modern slavery’ is used as an umbrella term that encompasses key definitions found in three major international treaties: the Slavery Convention (as amended in 1956), the Forced Labour Convention, and the UN Trafficking Protocol. No one of these three treaties is universally ratified but all have been ratified by many countries. The concept of ‘modern slavery’ is intended to cover the field of concepts described in those treaties.
The Walk Free definition of Modern Slavery includes the definitions in the box below:
- Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons;
- By means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person; (these means are not required in the case of children)
- With the intent of exploiting that person through:
- Prostitution of others;
- Sexual exploitation;
- Forced labor;
- Slavery (or similar practices);
- Servitude etc.;
- Removal of organs
(UN Trafficking Protocol, 2000)
The status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.
Includes slavery-like practices: debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, sale or exploitation of children (including in armed conflict) and descent-based slavery.
(The Slavery Convention (1926) and Supplementary Slavery Convention (1956))
All work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.
(ILO Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29))
This Index estimates that there are 29.8 million people in modern slavery globally.
When considered as a percentage of population, the prevalence of modern slavery is highest in Mauritania, Haiti, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Moldova, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, the Gambia and Gabon.
However, when considered in absolute terms, the countries with the highest estimated numbers of enslaved are India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Taken together, these ten countries account for more than 76% of the total estimate of 29.8 million enslaved.
The top 10 countries ranked for their low prevalence are: Ireland, Iceland, UK, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, and Denmark.
While it takes different forms in different countries and sectors, every country has some form of modern slavery.
It is estimated that 72.7 % of the estimated total 29.6 million people in modern slavery are in Asia.
The countries with the highest estimated numbers of enslaved are India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Taken together, these countries account for more than 76% of the total estimate of 29.6 million in modern slavery.
The country with the largest estimated number of people enslaved is India, which is estimated to have between 13,300,000 and 14,700,000 people enslaved.
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 country with the third highest absolute number in modern slavery is Pakistan, with an estimated 2,000,000 to 2,200,000 in modern slavery.
Prevalence means the total number of people living in modern slavery in a given population at a specific time.
The amount and type of slavery in the Global Slavery Index is measured using three variables:
- A composite estimate of the number of people in modern slavery in each country (this makes up the majority of the prevalence estimate, accounting for 95% of the total)
- A measure of the level of human trafficking to and from each country (accounts for 2.5%)
- A measure of the level of child and early marriage in each country (accounts for 2.5%)
The data for the first variable of prevalence (which accounts for the majority of the findings) were taken from 3 types of research:
- Secondary collection – a review of the public record, also referred to as secondary source information – published reports from governments, the investigations of non-governmental and international organizations, and journalistic reports across all media.
- The second type of information used in our estimate of prevalence are representative samples (meaning they are collected randomly and thus can reliably represent the larger population) and they yield a statistical estimate of the prevalence of slavery based on first-hand reports by individuals. Information gained in this way is superior to secondary sources, but is available for a limited number of countries.
- And finally, because random sample surveys do not exist for many countries, the Index uses representative sample data to statistically extrapolate the prevalence of slavery for those countries that have not yet had random sample surveys.
The data on the level of human trafficking in and out of a country were taken from the TIP report whilst the child marriage numbers are from UNICEF.
The data that underlies the Index was not collected specifically for the preparation of the Index but some of the data (notably the estimates of prevalence by country) had been compiled and estimated by Kevin Bales with Free the Slaves, prior to this Index.
What is new is the way the data is combined, and analysed for the first time ever in one single report in order to determine the estimate of prevalence in over 162 countries. The GSI allows us to have a global picture of the situation of modern slavery – something that has never been done before.
For next year’s Index (2014), the research team will conduct random sample surveys in key countries and provide narratives for all countries included in the report which will outline the situation of modern slavery, the government response and recommendations to tackle this problem.
The quantitative data on prevalence was compared to other pre-existing sources of data on prevalence, and other known information about individual countries. For data from pre-existing sources, we relied on checks done by those institutions responsible for producing the data in the first place.
The country studies were reviewed by in-country experts with detailed knowledge of the country in question, many of whom provided further information or recommendations.
In addition, the report was sent to all 162 countries through an extensive government consultation process which provided the research team with valuable feedback from various officials on the ground.
This is the first edition of the Global Slavery Index. Walk Free’s aim is year-on-year improvement in our modern slavery estimate, ideally through the expansion of representative sample surveys.
For the next edition of the GSI, we plan to include data on prevalence drawn from sample surveys in six countries. Data will be updated on the website as it becomes available.
The goal of the Index is to help fill information gaps and provide governments with up to date information on factors that will allow them to assess and improve the effectiveness of their responses to this issue. The Index is intended to serve governments by providing them with information that will help them to develop and enforce laws and policies to end modern forms of slavery and to build services that will help survivors of these crimes to recover and achieve productive and dignified lives. At the same time, it is necessary to be clear and objective about the risks and prevalence of modern slavery, and a country’s ability to respond to the challenge of modern slavery. Our goal is that each country will achieve the lowest levels of prevalence and risk, and the highest levels of response. All countries that do so will be included in the top category of reporting.
The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is the U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage governments on human trafficking. It is a reflection of the US Governments position on trafficking issues. The TIP report also focuses on trafficking and not all forms of modern slavery. The Global Slavery Index measures the prevalence of modern slavery in 162 countries, which also encompasses the trafficking of human beings. The GSI has not been commissioned by any government; it is an impartial and independent report which seeks to reflect the true extent of the modern slavery problem.
We hope this draft Index will stimulate discussion and feedback ultimately leading to an improvement in the strength and usefulness of the Index. In addition, Walk Free would like to begin a process of engaging with governments and ultimately supporting countries to assess their response to modern slavery and improve the effectiveness of their response.
Most countries have already voluntarily ratified international agreements such as the Slavery Convention, the UN Trafficking Protocol and the ILO Convention on Forced Labour. For instance, 97 countries, or 49.7% of members of the United Nations, are party to the 1926 Slavery Convention and 154 countries, or 79.7% of members of the United Nations, are party to the UN Trafficking Protocol. Through this action, Governments have already expressed their legally binding commitments to work towards the eradication of various forms of modern slavery.
The role of governments in ending this grave human rights violation is thus already recognised and paramount. Walk Free aims to remind these governments to honour their commitment of ending modern slavery.
For some countries, such as Kosovo, Cyprus and Taiwan, modern slavery has not been estimated because the information needed for global comparisons requires that it be collected uniformly across all countries. For various reasons there is insufficient comparable information available for these countries at the time of conducting secondary source analysis. We hope to include these countries within the Index as soon as such information can be obtained for next year’s Index.
The country studies in this report provide a short, succinct description and analysis of key aspects of the national responses to modern slavery. In this first year of the Index, it was not possible to cover all 162 countries. Accordingly, a decision had to be made about selected a sub-set for special focus, and it was decided to focus on countries at the more extreme end of the modern slavery spectrum. Accordingly, the countries included are:
- The ten countries with the highest estimated prevalence of people in modern slavery (Mauritania, Haiti, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Moldova, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Gabon; included in the body of this report);
- The ten countries with the lowest estimated prevalence of people in modern slavery (Iceland, Ireland, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Finland, Denmark; included in the body of this report).
Additional country studies on some countries are available on under the Country Study section of this website.
It was not possible to cover every country in the world in the first edition of the GSI. As the GSI grows, we will add information about additional countries. In 2014, Kosovo, South Sudan, North Korea and Cyprus are included for the first time. Taiwan is added to place it on the same footing as Hong Kong.