Almost 30 million people across the world are currently living in slavery, new research shows.
The findings come from the first annual Global Slavery Index released by the Walk Free Foundation, a movement working to end modern slavery, which looked at freedom-depriving practices including slavery, forced labor, debt bondage, human trafficking and child marriage in 162 countries.
The countries that topped the index with the highest prevalence of slavery are Mauritania, Haiti and Pakistan. The Index shows that within Mauritania’s population of 3.8 million, as many as 160,000 people are enslaved, giving it “the highest proportion of people in slavery in the world,” the Index states. In Haiti, high levels of child marriage and human trafficking from the nation helped bring it to the dubious number two spot in terms of slavery prevalence, but it is also due to the “deeply entrenched practices of child slavery (the restavek system).” As restaveks, as many as half a million children are exploited as they serve as domestic help for wealthier families and may “suffer the cruelest form of neglect – denied food, water, a bed to sleep in and constant physical and emotional abuse.” Those who run away to escape the abuse may end up trafficked and forced into begging or sexual exploitation.
Following Mauritania, Haiti and Pakistan on the top ten list of countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery are India, Nepal, Moldova, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia and Gabon.
In terms of highest absolute numbers of people in slavery, India tops the list, with as many as 14,700,000 people enslaved. “India exhibits the full spectrum of different forms of modern slavery, from severe forms of inter-generational bonded labor across various industries to the worst forms of child labor, commercial sexual exploitation, and forced and servile marriage,” the Index states.
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