Present-day Slavery Worldwide

In a recent news article from Reuters, Belinda Goldsmith reported that nearly 30 million people worldwide are presently enslaved, according to the Global Slavery Index, 2013, a new report from the anti-slavery non-profit, Walk Free Foundation.  The report defines slavery as "slavery-like practices, such as debt bondage, forced marriage and sale or exploitation of children, human trafficking and forced labor, and other practices described in 1926 Convention to Suppress the Slave Trade and Slavery; the 1957 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery; the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention Concerning Forced or Compulsory Labor; and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime."

The report ranks 162 countries according to the number of enslaved persons, the rate of enslavement, and the countries' overall population. The graphic above named the countries with the highest rates of slavery including, Mauritania, Haiti, Pakistan, India and others, and the countries with the highest number of enslaved persons, including India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, and others. The United States is ranked 134th with an estimated 59,644 enslaved persons in a population of 314 million. 

Data for this report came from several sources.  The preferred method of data gathering was surveys of a random sample of citizens conducted to learn of their experiences in traveling abroad and being detained, having their passports confiscated, and other experiences that are hallmarks of enslavement.  However, it was not possible to gather data in all countries, so alternate methods were employed. One such method was the use of published reports from governments, the investigations of non-governmental and international organizations, and media reports including serials such as the US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and stand alone reports such as the Incidence of Bonded Labor in India; Area, Nature and Extent, carried out by Lal Bahadur Shastri, National Academy of Administration, in India; reports by the ILO, such as the Stopping Forced Labor Report and others.  Finally, in countries where surveys could not be fielded and there were no published reports available, estimation of the prevalence of slavery was extrapolated from existing data sources with the help of experts. The report contains detailed explanation on all methodologies in Appendix I. 

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Sue Hodge

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