Modern slavery is a complex and often hidden crime that crosses borders, sectors, and jurisdictions. Walk Free believes that a strong multifaceted approach is needed to end modern slavery. This includes building a robust knowledge base to inform action, driving legislative change in key countries and harnessing the power of businesses and faiths. Through a combination of direct implementation, grassroots community engagement, and working in partnership with faiths, businesses, academics, NGOs, and governments around the world; Walk Free believes we can end modern slavery.
Walk Free provides the Secretariat for the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, and champions business sector engagement in this regional program. It is also advocating strongly for all leading global economies to enact laws to ensure all organisations are held accountable for taking proactive steps to remove modern slavery from their supply chains. Walk Free’s Global Slavery Index has developed world leading research to provide measurement of the size and scale of modern slavery, as well as assess country-level vulnerability and governmental responses. Together with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Walk Free developed the joint Global Estimates of Modern Slavery.
Alongside this, the Global Freedom Network is working to catalyse world faiths in the fight against modern slavery. Walk Free is also scaling effective anti-slavery responses in partnership with the Freedom Fund and seed funded the global activist movement, Freedom United, whose community of eight million supporters are campaigning for change. Walk Free continues to work with faiths, governments and NGOs throughout the world to agitate for change and support initiatives dedicated to the eradication of modern slavery in all its forms.
What is modern slavery?
Figure 1Modern slavery is an umbrella term
Countries use differing terminologies to describe modern forms of slavery. This includes how they describe slavery itself, but also other concepts such as human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, and the sale and exploitation of children.
In this report, modern slavery is used as an umbrella term that focuses attention on the commonalities across these concepts. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power, or deception.1
For full terminology refer to the Overview page under Methodology.
About modern slavery
Modern slavery is a hidden crime that affects every country in the world. In the period between this Index and the last (published in 2016), modern slavery was found in many industries including garment manufacturing, mining, and agriculture, and in many contexts, from private homes to settlements for internally displaced people and refugees. Instances have been identified in Thai fishing, coal mining in North Korea, in the homes of diplomats in Australia, car-wash stations in the United Kingdom, cocoa agriculture in Côte d’Ivoire, and cattle ranching in Brazil, just to name a few examples.
Modern slavery impacts all of us, from the food we consume to the goods we purchase. It is everyone’s responsibility to address and eliminate this crime everywhere it occurs.
Nearly every country in the world has committed to eradicate modern slavery through their national legislation and policies. Governments have a central role to play by enacting legislation, providing safety nets to their populations, and pursuing criminals who participate in this heinous crime. As no single actor can address all these challenges, governments need the support and engagement of the private sector, civil society, and the community at large.
The Global Slavery Index is a tool for citizens, non-government organisations (NGOs), businesses, and governments to understand the size of the problem, existing responses, and contributing factors so that they can advocate for and build sound policies that will eradicate modern slavery.
All supporting data tables and methodology are available to download from the Resources page.