It is something that people just can’t seem to wrap their brains around. It is inconceivable to most that such a thing as slavery could exist in our modern 21st Century world. The sad fact, however, is that it does and a new report released this week bears all of that out.
The Australian human rights group known as the Walk Free Foundation according to the third Global Slavery Index launched on Tuesday with Australian actor Russell Crowe released a study that has found that 46 million people around the globe are currently trapped in slavery. This is an increase of over ten million slaves in just two years since the last findings came out in 2014. India leads the world with 18 million people who have been forced into slavery. India’s total is five time higher than any other country on Earth. However, the country where it is most prevalent is North Korea as nearly 5% of the North Korean population are slaves. Their final report is called The Global Slavery Index 2016.
The organization has defined slavery as “situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception.” In it’s report, the foundation has found that slavery pervades many cultures and ways of life from forced slave labor in farming, fishing, and the manufacturing industries, to forced marriages to sex slavery.
China is second behind India with 3.39 million people in slavery with Pakistan coming in third with 2.13 million enslaved.
What the report also seems to discover is that there is a direct correlation between the rich and the poor. More affluent and capitalistic countries have a far lower prevalence of slavery than the more impoverished nations like India, Pakistan and much of China. Also, totalitarianism, like in North Korea, is almost a guarantee that human life will be considered disposable and slavery thrives in such brutal dictatorial conditions.
The report interviewed 42,000 people in 25 countries and learned that 60% of the world’s slaves are in the Asian countries. The group is headed by a billionaire named Andrew Forrest and he sees the drive of companies to be competitive, and to maximize profit margins, as one of the biggest factors in the proliferation of slavery.
He, sadly, knows that companies that are not recruiting slaves are likely to be out of business in the near future.
Here are some key figures from the index:
- Asia is home to an estimated two-thirds of the total number of people living in modern slavery
- Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for about 15 percent of the world’s slaves
- India is the country with the greatest number of people living in some form of modern slavery, estimated at 18.3 million
- China came second with an estimated 3.4 million slaves and Pakistan third with an estimated 2.1 million slaves
- Rounding out the top 10 were Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, North Korea, Russia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia
- North Korea is the country with the highest estimated proportion of modern slavery with nearly one in every 20 North Koreans, or 4.37 percent of a 25 million population, living in slavery
- In terms of concentration, second was Uzbekistan with 3.97 percent of its population in slavery amid reports of forced labor in its cotton industry, then Cambodia with 1.6 percent, India with 1.4 percent and Qatar with 1.36 percent
- Governments taking the most steps to combat modern slavery were the Netherlands, the United States, Britain, Sweden, Australia, Portugal, Croatia, Spain, Belgium and Norway
- The least action was being taken by the governments of North Korea, Iran, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Hong Kong, Central African Republic, Papua New Guinea, Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan.