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.

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Walk Free publishes Global Modern Slavery Directory

Written by Oliver Mitchell

When 20 year old Sujita sought the services of a work placement agency in the Indian capital of New Delhi, she had no idea of the gruelling domestic work that she would be forced to undertake at the house of the businessman, Hemant Rathi. Two and a half years later a concerned local resident finally recognised Sujita as a victim of domestic servitude and notified the human rights organisation Shakti Vahini, who aided in her rescue.1

Could Sujita’s traumatic experience have been avoided? Could she have been rescued earlier?

The Global Modern Slavery Directory (the ‘Directory’) seeks to radically transform how these questions are answered by changing the way Sujita and the millions of modern slavery victims like her are provided assistance. Just as a person’s arms and legs must move in unison to run, the world’s response to modern slavery must also be a highly coordinated affair. The Directory achieves this by serving as a neural hub between service providers, policy makers, donors and academics in order to better facilitate a united movement against modern slavery.

The Directory is a global database of over 770 verified organisations and hotlines from 120 countries (565 global organisations and 205 US national organisations). It works to encourage greater coordination amongst organisations so that victims are provided with faster and more effective services. The Directory fosters trans-organisational efforts by offering the means through which service providers can communicate, raise awareness, and overcome international and bureaucratic barriers together.

One of the most significant problems that any response to modern slavery faces is the challenge of providing, or even identifying, the appropriate support frameworks available for potential and actual victims. In the case of Sujita, neither the local residents nor the organisation that placed her in the house of Hemant Rathi were able to foresee the peril that awaited her. Indeed, victims of modern slavery are often the most vulnerable members of society and fall outside traditional protection services. Children with poor literacy, migrants who do not speak the native language and young girls from disadvantaged, rural communities all represent the kinds of people most at risk.

The Directory moves to help these and countless other victims by synthesising the details of participating organisations into a nuanced and centralised network of information. By creating a fingerprint-like impression of each organisation, the Directory offers the public and service providers with a greater level of knowledge about the sorts of issues that exist in their neighbouring areas. Information such as the types of languages spoken or whether the organisation works with child slavery, commercial sexual exploitation or some other form of modern slavery enables first-responders and service providers to react at swifter and more efficient rates. If Sujita’s placement agency and Shakti Vahini had had the opportunity to enter into dialogue with one another at an earlier time then Sujita might not have been subjected to domestic servitude for two and a half years.

The Directory’s broader inclusion of up-to-date contact information, the number and nature of services available, and funding details (be that sources, reports, or how-to-donate info) all come together to further close this gap in the world’s response to modern slavery. Indeed, this also means that the Directory stands out as a powerful research tool for academics and policy makers to gain a clearer picture of the issues they face.

The Directory is a collaborative between the Walk Free Foundation, Polaris Project and The Freedom Fund, which forms a part of their wider mission to end modern slavery.


Brazil’s World Cup Underbelly

Authored by Jessica Watts.

Over 3 billion people will tune in to watch the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this month, with people from all corners of the globe revelling in the festivities of the game. But there is an ugly side to the beautiful game - modern slavery in Brazil.

The 2013 Global Slavery Index estimates there are up to 220 000 people living in modern day slavery in the country. Those in forced labour in garment factories and on plantations, children and women forced into commercial sexual exploitation and young girls trapped in houses as domestic workers. Perhaps most alarming is that research for the 2014 Index indicates this figure is a gross underestimation.

Continue reading


Forced to Flee

Refugees as the emerging face of modern slavery in the Middle East

As we reflect on the plight – but also the amazing survival instincts of refugees today – World Refugee Day, we should look closely at the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region – a region responsible for calculating the globe’s highest refugee figures in 2013.

The bleak numbers represent the high human cost of a series of bloody humanitarian emergencies erupting from sectarian and civil conflicts. The Syrian crisis alone has seen almost 2.6 million refugees flee to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. According to UN data, this figure is set to rise exponentially by 2015. Continue reading

Media Coverage

Global slavery survey finds cleansing supply chains a problem

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation ) – Cleansing slavery from business supply chains in the public and private sectors is one of the greatest challenges countries face in combating modern-day slavery, a new survey from the Walk Free Foundation has found