30 January 2015

Slavery Still Exists in These Countries

Slavery Still Exists
Slavery still exists today. Worse, an estimated 30 million people worldwide are living in modern-day slavery, according to the inaugural Global Slavery Index published on October 2013.

The index, compiled by the Walk Free Foundation (WFF), reported that India by far had the largest number of enslaved people and it is also prevalent in the West African nation of Mauritania, where four percent of the population was deemed to be held in slavery.

The WFF has pulled together the best available experts in the field, data from respected outside sources and their own analysis to compile the 162-country index. It hopes the annual index will help governments to monitor and tackle what it calls a "hidden crime."

Aside from Mauritania, countries with high prevalence of modern slavery are Haiti, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Moldova, Benin, Ivory Coast, Gambia, and Gabon. Moldova – once part of the Soviet Union – was the only European nation in the top 10.

The index describes Mauritania as a nation with "deeply entrenched hereditary slavery," while "people in slavery may be bought and sold, rented out, and given away as gifts."

WFF Chief Executive Nick Grono said the inherited slave status was "very shocking."

"In Mauritania, kids are born into slavery. Women and men are enslaved and their children are often forced into a situation of domestic servitude or forced to work in the fields,” he added.

Russia came at 49th, China at 84th, United States at 134th, France at 139th, and Britain joins the bottom at 160.

In terms of total numbers, the countries with the most people in modern slavery were estimated to be India (13.95 million), followed by China (2.95 million), and Pakistan (2.1 million).

The report estimated that 72 percent of people in modern slavery live in Asia.

In India, "by far the largest proportion of this problem is the exploitation of Indian citizens within India itself, particularly through debt bondage and bonded labor," the report said.

The estimated 2.9 million people in modern slavery in China "includes the forced labor of men, women, and children in many parts of the economy, including domestic servitude and forced begging, the sexual exploitation of women and children, and forced marriage," said the report.

Among the top 10, the WFF said Moldova and Ivory Coast were working hard to address the issue, but efforts in the top three – Mauritania, Haiti, and Pakistan – are "token at best and non-existent at worst," the report said.

Established in May last year, the WFF is a 20-strong team based in Perth on the Australian west coast, founded by philanthropists Andrew Forrest - the chairman of Fortescue Metals Group - and his wife Nicola.

It has the backing of former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Britain's ex-prime minister Tony Blair, current Australian PM Tony Abbott, and philanthropists Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Mo Ibrahim.

The foundation's definition of modern slavery includes slavery itself, plus slavery-like practices – such as debt bondage, forced marriage, and the sale or exploitation of children – human trafficking, and forced labor.

"A lot of people are very surprised to hear that slavery still exists," said Grono, explaining how many people assume it ended when the Atlantic slave trade was abolished in the 1800s.