More than 29 million people around the world are living in slavery, according to the first index to attempt to measure the scale of modern-day slavery on a country-by-country basis. (The International Labour Organization estimates 21 million people worldwide are in forced labour.) The index, published by the Walk Free Foundation on Thursday, ranks 162 countries and identifies risk factors for enslavement and the government responses.
Slavery is the possession and control of a person in such a way as to significantly deprive that person of his or her individual liberty, with the intent of exploiting that person through their use, management, profit, transfer or disposal. Usually this exercise will be achieved through means such as violence or threats of violence, deception and/or coercion.
In 2013, modern slavery takes many forms, and is known by many names: slavery, forced labour or human trafficking. Whatever term is used, the significant characteristic of all forms of modern slavery is that it involves one person depriving another people of their freedom: their freedom to leave one job for another, their freedom to leave one workplace for another, their freedom to control their own body.”
The research found that around 10 countries hold about 70% of the world’s slaves. India has the highest number of people enslaved in absolute terms, approximately 14 million, almost half the total worldwide. China has 2.9 million enslaved and Pakistan is third, with an estimated 2 million.
Among the countries with the highest percentage of modern slavery per capita, the West African nation of Mauritania was the worst offender. According to the report, up to 20 percent of Mauritania’s population of 3.7 million people are enslaved, many through a hereditary system.
Head over to Global Slavery Index's website to see the interactive map of modern slavery around the world.
1. Fatima, a Bangladeshi migrant working as a low-paid prostitute in a central Calcutta brothel, was sold into the profession by her husband in collusion with a prostitute at the brothel where she now works. Though India ranks fourth on this list, it’s also the country with the highest number of people enslaved in the world. (Majority World/UIG via Getty Images)
2. Pakistani brick makers gather freshly moulded bricks ready for firing at a brick kiln in the outskirts of Lahore. Modern slavery in Pakistan is primarily characterized as bonded labour. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
3. Eleven trafficked children were arrested by the police at the border between Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. They were going to be exploited in cocoa plantations in the south of Ivory Coast. Enslaved women and children in Côte d’Ivoire are often subjected to forced labour and sex work. (Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images)
4. A grandmother holds up pictures of her lost granddaughter, who she believed was forced into prostitution as a sex slave. In Nepal, modern slavery practices include forced labour and sex work. (Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)