Global Slavery Index 2016 – Top 10 FAQs

Q1: Why is this report important?

Because it is only by measuring and understanding the scale of modern slavery that we can effectively tackle it. The Global Slavery Index is the only one of its kind to measure the number of people living in modern slavery country by country. It measures the prevalence of the issue, government responses to the problem and also factors within each country that make people vulnerable to exploitation. It is also broader in its definition of modern slavery than many others.

Q2: What is modern slavery – can you give a definition?

While definitions vary, in this report, modern slavery refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception. For example their passport may be taken away if they are in a foreign country, they may be threatened with violence, or their family may be threatened.

Q3: What are the main differences between the 2016 report and the last report in 2014?

The major difference between the two reports is a significant shift from relying on secondary data to producing our own primary data, which we have done through standardised surveys that guarantee consistency and comparability. The vulnerability modelling is incredibly sound and has been developed through rigorous statistical testing.

Q4. What was the scale of the research?

Research included over 42,000 interviews conducted in 25 countries and 53 languages, covering 44% of the global population.

Q5: How have you reached your conclusions? 

Our conclusions are based squarely on the evidence gathered through our extensive surveys and rigorous statistical testing.

Q6: Is the problem getting better or worse?

While we see that the absolute figure of the number of people enslaved globally is greater than previously reported in 2014, this can be largely attributed to our improved research methodology. However this does not preclude an increase in slavery in certain jurisdictions. On the other hand we have seen increased actions from certain governments around the world in tackling slavery.

Q8: What should governments be doing more of? Are there good examples of global best practice?

Governments need to look more closely at illicit labour recruitment, crack down on the illegal companies that provide conduit in which people end up in slavery, and penalise the companies and individuals that are using bonded labour, either directly or in their supply chains. At the same time, it is important that we tackle the conditions that drive labour migration by creating opportunities within home countries, and create safe migration pathways.

A good example of best practice is the action taken by the UK government, which has introduced anti-modern-slavery legislation and has appointed an independent Commissioner, to help fight modern slavery in its jurisdiction.

Q9: What should business be doing more of?

Not only are businesses in a prime position to deploy the positive economic multiplier of investment to end slavery, those that don’t actively look for forced labour within their supply chains are standing on a burning platform. Businesses need to actively address any concerns around modern slavery in their supply chains. This makes good commercial sense, as no business wants to be tainted with the stain of using slave labour, even if indirectly. There is a great opportunity for businesses to work together and with civil society and governments in tackling this issue.

Q10: What can citizens do to tackle the problem?

We need to create an ecosystem response rather than a single-actor response. That means that citizens have a central role to play in eradicating modern slavery. Awareness is the first step in taking action. Citizens can make important and informed consumer choices. They can ask difficult questions of businesses seeking their custom. They can demand information of their governments on what actions they have taken and how effective these have been. And they can raise their voices across social media channels whenever they see exploitation occurring, whether at home or abroad.