45.8 Million People Enslaved Worldwide, Global Slavery Index Finds

45.8 Million People Enslaved Worldwide, Global Slavery Index Finds

An estimated 45.8 million men, women, and children around the globe are enslaved, a report from the Walk Free Foundation finds.

Based on enhanced research methodologies, the 2016 Global Slavery Index (216 pages, PDF) found that ten million more people than previously estimated — an increase of 28 percent — are enslaved by human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, or commercial sexual exploitation. Now in its third edition, the index found that a majority (58 percent) of those people are concentrated in just five countries — India (18.35 million), China (3.39 million), Pakistan (2.13 million), Bangladesh (1.53 million), and Uzbekistan (1.23 million). While slavery exists in all hundred and sixty-seven countries covered by the index, those with the largest proportions of their populations living in slavery are North Korea (4.37 percent), Uzbekistan (3.97 percent), Cambodia (1.65 percent), India (1.40 percent), and Qatar (1.36 percent).

According to the report, a hundred and twenty-four countries have criminalized human trafficking in line with the United Nations Trafficking Protocol, while ninety-six countries have developed national action plans aimed at coordinating a government response to the problem. The Indian government, for example, has criminalized trafficking, slavery, forced labor, child prostitution, and forced marriage and is preparing to implement tougher penalties for repeat traffickers and offer victims protection and recovery support.

"We call on governments of the top ten economies of the world to enact laws at least as strong as the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, with a budget and capability to ensure organizations are held to account for modern slavery in their supply chains and to empower independent oversight," said Walk Free Foundation founder and board chair Andrew Forrest, who signed the Giving Pledge in 2013. "Leaders of the world's major economies must bring the power of business to this issue, by requiring a focus on supply chain transparency....I believe in the critical role of leaders in government, business, and civil society. Through our responsible use of power, strength of conviction, determination, and collective will, we all can lead the world to end slavery."

"45.8 Million People Are Enslaved Across the World." Walk Free Foundation Press Release 05/31/2016.