With 35 countries and 13 percent of the world’s population, the Americas is home to geographically large countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and the United States and features wide socio-economic differences within each country and across the region. This regional study summarises a longer set of findings, which can be found in the Global Slavery Index: Americas Report.
Prevalence within the Americas
On any given day in 2016, an estimated 1.9 million men, women, and children were living in modern slavery in the Americas. This region had a prevalence of 1.9 people in modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the region.
When considering the forms of modern slavery, the rate of forced labour (1.3 victims per 1,000 people) was higher than the rate of forced marriage (0.7 victims per 1,000). A little over a third of victims of forced labour exploitation were held in debt bondage (37.9 percent), with similar proportions of men and women in the region trapped through debt. The region also accounted for four percent of all victims of forced sexual exploitation worldwide.
Within the region, Venezuela, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic were the countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery; however, the United States, Brazil, and Mexico had the highest absolute numbers and accounted for over half (57 percent) of the victims in the region.
These regional figures, while important, should be interpreted cautiously given the gaps and limitations of data in key regions. For example, there are no surveys conducted in North America.
Table 1Estimated prevalence of modern slavery by country, Americas
|Regional rank||Country||Estimated prevalence (victims per 1,000 population)||Estimated absolute number of victims||Population|
|1||Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of||5.6||174,000||31,155,000|
|6||Trinidad and Tobago||3.0||4,000||1,360,000|
|18||Bolivia, Plurinational State of||2.1||23,000||10,725,000|
Vulnerability within the Americas
Figure 1Regional average vulnerability scores by dimension, Americas
The average vulnerability score in the Americas (41 percent) suggests a higher risk of modern slavery in this region than is evident in the prevalence data. The Americas region performed relatively well on the dimensions that measure impact of conflict and acceptance of minority groups, with a better average score than other regions, but relatively poorly on the governance and the inequality dimensions, which can reflect increasing income inequality, significant problems associated with violent crime, and lower confidence in judicial systems (Figure 1). Across all dimensions of vulnerability, scores in the region ranged from a high of 70 percent in Haiti to a low of 10 percent in Canada.
Table 2Estimated vulnerability to modern slavery by country, Americas
|Country Name||Governance issues||Lack of basic needs||Inequality||Disenfranchised groups||Effects of conflict||Overall weighted average|
|Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of||65.1||19.7||60.4||34.3||27.8||57.9|
|Bolivia, Plurinational State of||50.9||25.8||46.3||32.1||13.4||44.1|
|Trinidad and Tobago||38.6||13.0||62.4||47.8||13.7||39.1|
Government responses within the Americas
Governments in the Americas have taken strong steps to respond to modern slavery, with improvements in victim identification mechanisms and support services. The Americas scores an average B rating, with countries such as Chile, Argentina, and Peru strengthening their national referral mechanisms and guidelines for identifying victims in recent years. Certain countries within the Americas, namely the US and Brazil, also lead the way globally on engaging with business. Brazil has been engaging with business to prevent trabalho escravo (slave labour) since 2005 with the launch of its National Pact for the Eradication of Slave Labour, a multi-stakeholder initiative to engage national and international companies to maintain their supply chains free from slave labour.
Table 3Movements in the rating for the Americas 2016 to 2018
|Country||2016 Rating||Change in Rating||2018 Rating|
Trinidad and Tobago
Antigua and Barbuda***
Saint Kitts and Nevis***
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines***
*Countries that scored -1 on a negative indicator could not score above a BBB rating
**Not rated in 2016 Global Slavery Index
***Included for the first time in 2018, therefore a rating is not provided.
All data are still available via the Global Slavery Index website
Table 4Government response rating, milestone percentage, and total score by country, Americas
|Credit rating||Country||Support survivors||Criminal justice||Coordination||Address risk||Supply chaings||TOTAL|
|B||Trinidad and Tobago||67.2||50.0||31.3||66.7||0.0||49.9|
|B||Bolivia, Plurinational State of||21.3||43.9||62.5||61.9||8.3||41.3|
|CC||Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of||23.3||43.9||12.5||52.4||0.0||28.2|
|No rating||Antigua and Barbuda|
|No rating||Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|No rating||Saint Lucia|
|No rating||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines1|
*Indicates where a country could not score above a BBB. These countries have received a negative rating for policies that hinder their response to modern slavery.