Region Highlights

Europe and Central Asia covers 51 countries across the subregions of Central and Western Asia, Eastern Europe and Northern, Southern, and Western Europe. Covering 12.4 percent of the world’s population, within these subregions there is broad variation and diversity in terms of people, culture, history, and levels of development. This regional study summarises a longer set of findings, which can be found in the Global Slavery Index: Europe and Central Asia Report.

Prevalence within Europe and Central Asia

On any given day in 2016, an estimated 3.6 million men, women, and children were living in modern slavery in Europe and Central Asia. This region had a prevalence of 3.9 people in modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the region.

When considering the forms of modern slavery, the rate of forced labour (3.6 per 1,000 people) was higher than the rate of forced marriage (0.4 per 1,000 people). The prevalence of forced marriage was the lowest of all the world’s regions. A little over a third of victims of forced labour exploitation were held in debt bondage (36 percent), with a higher proportion of men trapped through debt. The region also accounted for 14 percent of forced sexual exploitation worldwide.

Within the region, Turkmenistan, Belarus, and Macedonia are the countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery, while Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine have the highest absolute number and account for over one-third (39 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 numerous reports of forced marriages in Central Asia but few surveys on the issue have been conducted there.1 This contributes to lower rates of forced marriage than may be the case in this region.

Table 1Estimated prevalence of modern slavery by country, Europe and Central Asia
RankCountryEstimated prevalence (victims per 1,000 population)
Estimated absolute number of victims
Population

1

Turkmenistan**

11.2

62,000

5,565,000

2

Belarus

10.9

103,000

9,486,000

3

Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of

8.7

18,000

2,079,000

4

Greece

7.9

89,000

11,218,000

5

Albania

6.9

20,000

2,923,000

6

Turkey

6.5

509,000

78,271,000

7

Ukraine

6.4

286,000

44,658,000

8

Croatia

6.0

25,000

4,236,000

9

Montenegro

5.9

4,000

628,000

10

Lithuania

5.8

17,000

2,932,000

11

Russian Federation

5.5

794,000

143,888,000

12

Moldova, Republic of

5.5

22,000

4,066,000

13

Armenia

5.3

16,000

2,917,000

14

Uzbekistan**

5.2

160,000

30,976,000

15

Tajikistan**

4.5

39,000

8,549,000

16

Bulgaria

4.5

32,000

7,177,000

17

Azerbaijan**

4.5

43,000

9,617,000

18

Georgia

4.3

17,000

3,952,000

19

Romania

4.3

86,000

19,877,000

20

Cyprus

4.2

5,000

1,161,000

21

Kazakhstan**

4.2

75,000

17,750,000

22

Kyrgyzstan**

4.1

24,000

5,865,000

23

Kosovo

4.0

8,000

1,905,000

24

Latvia

3.9

8,000

1,993,000

25

Israel

3.9

31,000

8,065,000

26

Hungary

3.7

36,000

9,784,000

27

Estonia

3.6

5,000

1,315,000

28

Bosnia and Herzegovina

3.4

12,000

3,536,000

29

Poland

3.4

128,000

38,265,000

30

Serbia

3.3

30,000

8,851,000

31

Slovakia

2.9

16,000

5,439,000

32

Czech Republic

2.9

31,000

10,604,000

33

Portugal

2.5

26,000

10,418,000

34

Italy

2.4

145,000

59,504,000

35

Spain

2.3

105,000

46,398,000

36

Slovenia

2.2

5,000

2,075,000

37

Iceland

2.1

<1,000

330,000

38

United Kingdom

2.1

136,000

65,397,000

39

Germany

2.0

167,000

81,708,000

40

Belgium

2.0

23,000

11,288,000

41

France

2.0

129,000

64,457,000

42

Norway

1.8

9,000

5,200,000

43

Netherlands

1.8

30,000

16,938,000

44

Austria

1.7

15,000

8,679,000

45

Switzerland

1.7

14,000

8,320,000

46

Ireland

1.7

8,000

4,700,000

47

Finland

1.7

9,000

5,482,000

48

Denmark

1.6

9,000

5,689,000

49

Sweden

1.6

15,000

9,764,000

50

Luxembourg

1.5

<1,000

567,000

**Substantial gaps in data exist for the Central and East Asia subregions where, with the exception of Mongolia, surveys cannot be conducted for reasons such as (i) survey is only delivered face-to-face, (ii) survey is delivered only in the main language which many migrant workers do not speak, or (iii) national authorities would not, or were unlikely to, consent to the module on modern slavery. Unlike several countries in Western Europe where no surveys were conducted, none of the countries in these subregions were identified as sites of exploitation by respondents in the 48 countries where surveys were implemented.

Vulnerability within Europe and Central Asia

Figure 1Regional average vulnerability scores by dimension, Europe and Central Asia
Regional average vulnerability scores by dimension, Europe and Central Asia

Countries in Europe and Central Asia scored consistently well on vulnerability measures across all five dimensions, which reflects the generally higher average GDP per capita for this region. Interestingly, Europe and Central Asia performed relatively poorly on the disenfranchised groups dimension of vulnerability, which may reflect increasing anxiety over the refugee and migrant crises (Figure 1). On this dimension, scores ranged from a high of 60 percent in Poland to a low of two percent in Iceland. Overall, the highest vulnerability score across all dimensions was in Turkmenistan (58 percent) and the lowest was in Denmark (one percent).

Table 2Estimated vulnerability to modern slavery by country, Europe and Central Asia
Country NameGovernance issuesLack of basic needsInequalityDisenfranchised groupsEffects of conflictOverall weighted average
Turkmenistan80.221.531.432.615.958.1
Tajikistan67.430.932.827.830.155.8
Ukraine54.015.946.439.062.254.4
Russia59.313.538.634.151.951.6
Turkey47.022.247.048.647.951.6
Azerbaijan60.321.223.935.732.547.8
Uzbekistan71.720.332.69.018.047.5
Belarus64.916.723.939.420.847.3
Bosnia and Herzegovina52.016.431.750.734.146.4
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of48.417.442.550.627.345.6
Albania46.020.744.348.427.045.2
Kosovo53.116.039.349.712.043.8
Armenia51.118.933.846.322.143.6
Kazakhstan60.414.525.138.219.543.3
Kyrgyzstan49.619.735.442.623.242.8
Moldova, Republic of42.022.935.358.318.141.6
Georgia41.519.333.943.931.439.2
Greece38.514.436.456.023.637.1
Israel35.819.127.548.538.636.4
Montenegro39.415.037.450.918.335.8
Serbia39.115.231.640.927.533.9
Romania35.819.532.652.016.133.9
Croatia35.720.234.148.312.232.7
Bulgaria33.014.743.344.117.431.3
Estonia35.213.727.452.212.429.2
Italy31.714.445.431.019.328.3
Slovakia29.915.129.951.214.227.2
Lithuania29.215.435.646.39.726.2
Latvia31.715.923.844.010.324.6
Poland24.513.727.559.613.624.4
Hungary23.914.832.948.315.523.6
Slovenia22.416.630.645.66.420.1
Cyprus24.516.732.629.710.119.1
Czech Republic25.113.921.037.118.219.1
France17.315.429.421.228.515.3
Belgium20.015.029.919.312.313.1
Spain17.218.333.515.114.212.8
United Kingdom15.915.625.112.427.811.1
Germany15.915.022.815.724.710.4
Ireland17.217.024.310.920.110.4
Portugal12.215.631.720.79.78.5
Luxembourg17.713.724.512.114.38.4
Finland18.616.015.017.811.28.2
Netherlands12.813.626.016.012.26.1
Norway15.717.813.19.410.84.5
Sweden10.217.017.413.018.34.3
Iceland20.611.721.14.11.84.2
Austria12.612.218.223.53.13.4
Switzerland11.612.215.220.14.91.5
Denmark8.715.313.815.212.51.0

Government responses within Europe and Central Asia

While there is evident variation at the subregional level, overall the Europe and Central Asia region has the strongest response to modern slavery, scoring an average BB rating. In Europe in particular, governments are generally characterised by high levels of political will and resources. These countries also have multiple regional bodies which hold them to account and monitor their responses. For example, the European Union’s proactive approach to tackling modern slavery means that Europe leads the way in engaging with business as well as taking steps to investigate public procurement. Generally speaking, governments have improved their responses in recent years by taking more steps to strengthen their legislation, provide protective services for victims, establish coordination and accountability mechanisms, and respond to risk. Countries in Central Asia have also taken steps to tackle state-imposed forced labour in recent years, as shown by a reduction in forced labour in Tajikistan and the willingness of the government of Uzbekistan to engage with the ILO.2 More needs to be done, however, to reduce rates of forced labour in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan so that their responses prevent mass mobilisation of the population in the annual cotton harvest.

Table 3Movements in government response rating for Europe and Central Asia 2016 to 2018
Country2016 RatingChange in rating2018 Rating

Netherlands

A

A

United Kingdom

BBB

BBB*

Sweden

BBB

BBB

Belgium

BBB

BBB

Croatia

BBB

BBB

Spain

BBB

BBB

Norway

BBB

BBB

Portugal

BBB

BBB

Montenegro

BB

BBB

Cyprus

BB

BBB

Macedonia

BB

BBB

Austria

BBB

BBB

Georgia

BB

BBB

Italy

B

BBB

Serbia

BB

BBB

France

BB

BBB

Latvia

BB

BBB

Switzerland

BB

BBB

Albania

BB

BB

Slovenia

BB

BB

Lithuania

BB

BB

Denmark

BB

BB

Hungary

BB

BB

Finland

BB

BB

Ireland

BB

BB

Germany

BB

BB

Bulgaria

B

BB

Moldova

BB

BB

Greece

CCC

BB

Kosovo

B

BB

Poland

BB

BB

Armenia

B

BB

Slovakia

B

BB

Ukraine

B

BB

Czech Republic

BB

BB

Israel

B

BB

Estonia

CCC

B

Bosnia and Herzegovina

B

B

Azerbaijan

CCC

B

Turkey

B

B

Iceland

B

B

Luxembourg

CCC

B

Romania

B

B

Kyrgyzstan

CCC

B

Belarus

CCC

B

Tajikistan

CCC

CCC

Kazakhstan

CCC

CCC

Uzbekistan

CC

CCC

Turkmenistan

CC

CC

Russia

CC

CC

Malta***




*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 available via the Global Slavery Index website

Table 4Government response rating, milestone percentage, and total score by country, Europe and Central Asia
RatingCountrySupport survivorsCriminal justiceCoordinationAddress riskSupply chainsTOTAL
ANetherlands72.272.275.092.936.775.2
BBB*United Kingdom82.073.962.573.826.771.5
BBBSweden73.164.481.373.818.368.7
BBBBelgium72.253.987.573.836.768.3
BBBCroatia77.078.356.369.018.368.2
BBBSpain79.365.662.573.80.066.9
BBBNorway68.182.856.373.810.066.8
BBBPortugal62.669.468.883.38.366.3
BBBMontenegro79.370.056.361.90.064.0
BBBCyprus68.177.856.361.918.363.4
BBBMacedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of70.467.275.061.90.063.2
BBBAustria72.861.168.861.918.363.1
BBBGeorgia74.163.956.369.00.062.8
BBBItaly58.378.950.083.326.762.0
BBBSerbia63.975.056.369.00.061.9
BBBFrance42.471.793.871.418.361.5
BBBLatvia47.061.793.871.418.360.9
BBBSwitzerland66.760.637.581.00.060.0
BBAlbania72.863.368.866.70.059.9
BBSlovenia60.457.856.373.818.359.6
BBLithuania46.362.868.878.618.359.1
BBDenmark62.656.150.069.028.358.6
BBHungary64.847.256.371.418.358.2
BBFinland53.749.481.371.48.357.9
BBIreland65.942.262.569.018.357.7
BBGermany61.757.856.357.136.757.1
BBBulgaria59.849.456.366.718.355.8
BBMoldova, Republic of58.561.162.559.50.055.7
BBGreece68.566.143.845.218.355.1
BBKosovo66.762.737.559.50.054.8
BBPoland53.342.268.869.08.353.9
BBArmenia54.651.156.366.70.053.2
BBSlovakia48.752.262.564.318.353.2
BBUkraine65.746.162.566.70.053.0
BBCzech Republic47.054.481.350.028.352.9
BBIsrael57.256.143.861.90.052.1
BEstonia41.336.143.881.018.348.8
BBosnia and Herzegovina60.247.825.076.20.048.6
BAzerbaijan28.071.762.559.50.048.2
BTurkey66.757.237.533.30.047.4
BIceland48.754.437.552.48.346.4
BLuxembourg47.433.968.850.08.345.4
BRomania53.352.250.042.918.343.9
BKyrgyzstan33.048.356.361.90.040.9
BBelarus48.927.837.566.70.040.1
CCCTajikistan38.936.143.840.50.033.0
CCCKazakhstan42.850.037.526.20.032.8
CCCUzbekistan30.233.931.364.30.030.4
CCTurkmenistan17.840.031.361.90.027.1
CCRussia17.032.237.540.50.020.7
 No ratingMalta3      

*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.

Footnotes

1One of the few examples of a survey covering forced marriage-related topics is from Kyrgyzstan. According to findings of a survey undertaken in Kyrgyzstan, almost 4 percent of married women in the country reported having been kidnapped by their husbands without a prior understanding. A separate question posed to all respondents in the same survey showed that a large majority of the population is somewhat or very worried that “a daughter / grand-daughter / sister will be kidnapped by someone for marriage (bride stealing).” These questions have also been included in a new ICVS-based survey in Kazakhstan, funded by the European Commission, to be conducted in 2017. See further: van Dijk, J 2016, ‘Illuminating the Dark Figure of Crime: Crime Victimisation Surveys and Beyond,’ Newsletter of the European Society of Criminology. Available from: http://escnewsletter.org/ /2016-3/illuminating-dark-figure-crime-victimisation-surveys-and-beyond. [28 February 2018].
2See for example, International Labour Organization 2018, Third-party monitoring of measures against child labour and forced labour during the 2017 cotton harvest in Uzbekistan. Available from: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---ipec/documents/publication/wcms_617830.pdf. [20 February 2018]. See also: Human Rights Watch & Uzbek -German Forum for Human Rights 2017, 'We Can’t Refuse to Pick Cotton' Forced and Child Labor Linked to World Bank Group Investments in Uzbekistan. Available from: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/uzbekistan0617_web_3.pdf [23 October 2017]. See also: Human Rights Watch 2013, Uzbekistan: Forced Labor Widespread in Cotton Harvest. Available from: https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/01/25/uzbekistan-forced-labor-widespread-cotton-harvest. [9 February 2018].
3Malta was included in our assessment of government responses in 2018, however as this was the first year we collected data for this country we did not include its rating in the GSI. Data collected can be found in the database at https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/data/.