An eye-opening study from the Walk Free Foundation has found that there are 29.8 million people living in slavery today. The non-profit organization, which released its first annual global slavery index earlier today, defined slavery as including human trafficking, forced labor or indebted servitude, forced marriage, and the sale or exploitation of children. Reuters reports:
It found that 10 countries accounted for 76 percent of the 29.8 million people living in slavery – India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh….Researcher Kevin Bales said he hoped the index, the first annual report to monitor slavery globally, would raise public awareness as numbers were at an all-time high and it would increase pressure on governments to take more action.
In India alone there are roughly 14 million people in slavery, almost half of the worldwide total. That means that (slightly more than) 1 of every 100 Indians is living under conditions of slavery. Given that researchers found corruption to be the foremost driver of slavery, it’s no surprise that India finds itself atop this list.But India may not even be the worst offender. In Mauritania, West Africa, more than 4 percent of the 3.8 million citizens are slaves. As a reference point, 12 percent of the US population was enslaved on the eve of the civil war. And while the West performs comparatively well according to the report, the authors are careful to note that even high-performers like Britain and Iceland also have slaves within their borders. Despite more than a century of efforts to stamp it out, this problem refuses to go away.[Image of men working on palm oil plantation courtesy of Shutterstock]