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18 October 2013 | Gurjit Degun
More than 29 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery, with almost half of them in India.
That’s according to a new findings from the Walk Free Foundation's Global Slavery Index 2013, which points to emerging countries involved in the supply chain such as China and India.
Mauritania, in West Africa, is ranked first on the Index, with the highest proportion of its population enslaved estimated at 150,000 out of a population of just 3.8 million. Haiti, a Caribbean nation where child slavery is also widespread, is in second place, with Pakistan in third place.
India has 14 million people in modern slavery, there are an estimated 2.9 million enslaved in China, and Pakistan has just over two million.
The Index said these three countries, plus Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh make up the top 10 by absolute numbers. These account for 22 million of the 29.8 million people in slavery worldwide.
It is estimated that 4,000 people are enslaved in the UK, and “more could be done to help them and prevent others suffering their fate,” said Walk Free.
“It would be comforting to think that slavery is a relic of history, but it remains a scar on humanity on every continent,” said Nick Grono, Walk Free CEO.
“This is the first slavery index but it can already shape national and global efforts to root out modern slavery across the world. We now know that just 10 countries are home to over three quarters of those trapped in modern slavery. These nations must be the focus of global efforts.”
Professor Kevin Bales, the lead researcher on the Index, added: “There are exceptions, but many governments don’t want to know about people who can’t vote, who are hidden away, and are likely to be illegal anyway.
“The laws are in place, but the tools and resources and the political will are lacking. And since hidden slaves can’t be counted it is easy to pretend they don’t exist. The Index aims to change that.”
The index was published as part of anti-slavery day.