Over 3.14 lakh people in Bangladesh are today living in conditions that can be described as modern day slavery, states Global Slavery Index of the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation. The index that gives the comprehensive measure of the country by country extent and risk of “modern slavery” revealed that 29.8 million people are living in conditions of “modern slavery” across the world.
India has the highest number of enslaved people, approximately 14 million people, which is almost half the total number worldwide.
China follows with an estimated 2.9 million and Pakistan comes in third with an estimate of over two million, the survey claimed.
Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh make up the top 10 in the ranking.
Taken together, these countries account for more than 22 million of the 29.8 million enslaved people, said the survey, revealed on Thursday.
In another ranking of the index showing the ratio of enslaved people to population, Mauritania comes at the top.
The West African country, with its deeply entrenched system of “hereditary slavery”, is thought to have an estimated 150,000 slaves in a population of only 3.8 million.
Haiti, a Caribbean nation where “child slavery” is also widespread, is in second place, and Pakistan is one place below.
While Asia and Africa are home to the vast majority of “modern slaves”, no continent is free from it. Globally, Iceland, Ireland and the UK are tied with the lowest rankings in the index.
However, it is estimated that there are as many as 4,000 people enslaved in the UK and more could be done to help them and prevent others suffering their fate.
“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, CEO of Walk Free Foundation.
“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 ten countries are home to over three quarters of those trapped in modern slavery. These nations must be the focus of global efforts,” he said.
Prof Kevin Bales, the lead researcher on the index, said, “Most governments don’t dig deeply into slavery for a lot of bad reasons.
“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.”
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation. Historically, slavery was institutionally recognized by many societies; in more recent times, slavery has been outlawed in most societies but continues through the practices of debt bondage, indentured servitude, serfdom, domestic servants kept in captivity, certain adoptions in which children are forced to work as slaves, child soldiers, and forced marriage. Slavery is illegal in every country in the world, but there are still an estimated 29.8 million slaves worldwide.
Slavery predates written records and has existed in many cultures. Most slaves today are debt slaves, largely in South Asia, who are under debt bondage incurred by lenders, sometimes even for generations. Human trafficking is primarily used for forcing women and children into sex industries.
In pre-industrial societies, slaves and their labour were economically extremely important to those who benefitted from them. Slaves and serfs made up around three-quarters of the world’s population at the beginning of the 19th century
In modern mechanised societies, there is less need for sheer massive manpower; Norbert Wiener wrote that “mechanical labor has most of the economic properties of slave labor, though … it does not involve the direct demoralizing effects of human cruelty