Over 29 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery today, the Walk Free Foundation’s inaugural Global Slavery Index has revealed.
The Index, which will be published annually, is the first of its kind and gives the most accurate and comprehensive measure of the extent and risk of modern slavery, country by country, currently available.
Mauritania is ranked first on the Index, with the highest estimated proportion of its population enslaved of any country in the world. The West African country, with its deeply entrenched system of hereditary slavery, is thought to have an estimated 150,000 slaves in a population of only 3.8 million. Haiti, a Caribbean nation where child slavery is also widespread, is in second place, with Pakistan one place below.
India has the highest number of people enslaved in absolute terms, with approximately 14 million people in modern slavery – almost half of the total number worldwide. China follows, with an estimated 2, 900 000 enslaved, and Pakistan comes in third with an estimate of over two million in modern slavery. Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh make up the top ten by absolute numbers. Taken together, these countries account for more than 22 million of the 29.8 million people enslaved.
While Asia and Africa are home to the vast majority of modern slaves, no continent is free from modern slavery. Globally, Iceland, Ireland and the UK are tied with the lowest rankings in the Index. However, it is estimated that there are as many as four thousand people enslaved in the UK and more could be done to help them and prevent others suffering their fate.
“It would be comforting to think that slavery is a relic of history, but it remains a scar on humanity on every continent. This is the first slavery index but it can already shape national and global efforts to root out modern slavery across the world. We now know that just ten countries are home to over three quarters of those trapped in modern slavery. These nations must be the focus of global efforts,” said Nick Grono, CEO of Walk Free Foundation.
“Most governments don’t dig deeply into slavery for a lot of bad reasons. There are exceptions, but many governments don’t want to know about people who can’t vote, who are hidden away, and are likely to be illegal anyway. The laws are in place, but the tools and resources and the political will are lacking. And since hidden slaves can’t be counted it is easy to pretend they don’t exist. The Index aims to change that,” said Professor Kevin Bales, the lead researcher on the Index.
Notes to Editors
About The Index
In 2013, modern slavery takes many forms, and is known by many names. Whether it is called human trafficking, forced labour, slavery or slavery-like practices (a category that includes debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, sale or exploitation of children including in armed conflict) victims of modern slavery have their freedom denied, and are used and controlled and exploited by another person for profit, sex, or the thrill of domination.
The modern slavery prevalence estimates are a combined measure of three factors; the estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population, a measure of child marriage and data from human trafficking in and out of a country. When combined they produce the most detailed global picture of the numbers of enslaved people currently available.
The Index also identifies factors that shed light on the risk of modern slavery in each country and examines the strength of government responses in tackling this issue for the 20 countries at the top and bottom of the Index ranking. The Index examines the priority given to rooting out modern slavery, the methods used to address the problem, and how they could be improved for each country.
The Global Slavery Index was created in consultation with an international panel of experts from international organizations, think tanks and academic institutions. The Index has been endorsed by individuals including Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Julia Gillard; and leading philanthropists, Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson and Mo Ibrahim, as well as academics, business leaders, and policy makers.
The Global Slavery Index report can be found at www.globalslaveryindex.org
About the Walk Free Foundation
The Walk Free Foundation is a global organisation with a mission to end modern slavery in our generation by mobilising a global activist movement, generating the highest quality research, enlisting business and raising unprecedented levels of capital to drive change in those countries and industries bearing the greatest responsibility for modern slavery today.
The Walk Free Foundation will do this by:
- Identifying countries and industries most responsible for modern slavery;
- Identify and implement with partners the interventions in those countries and industries that will have the greatest impact on modern slavery; and
- Critically assess our impact.