Walk Free Foundation


Over 29 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery today, the Walk Free Foundation’s inaugural Global Slavery Index has revealed.

The Index, which will be published annually, is the first of its kind and gives the most accurate and comprehensive measure of the extent and risk of modern slavery, country by country, currently available.

Mauritania is ranked first on the Index, with the highest estimated proportion of its population enslaved of any country in the world.  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, with Pakistan one place below.

India has the highest number of people enslaved in absolute terms, with approximately 14 million people in modern slavery – almost half of the total number worldwide. China follows, with an estimated 2, 900 000 enslaved, and Pakistan comes in third with an estimate of over two million in modern slavery. Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh make up the top ten by absolute numbers. Taken together, these countries account for more than 22 million of the 29.8 million people enslaved.

While Asia and Africa are home to the vast majority of modern slaves, no continent is free from modern slavery. 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 four thousand 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. 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,said Nick Grono, CEO of Walk Free Foundation.

“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,” said Professor Kevin Bales, the lead researcher on the Index.

Notes to Editors

About The Index

In 2013, modern slavery takes many forms, and is known by many names. Whether it is called human trafficking, forced labour, slavery or slavery-like practices (a category that includes debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, sale or exploitation of children including in armed conflict) victims of modern slavery have their freedom denied, and are used and controlled and exploited by another person for profit, sex, or the thrill of domination.

The modern slavery prevalence estimates are a combined measure of three factors; the estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population, a measure of child marriage and data from human trafficking in and out of a country. When combined they produce the most detailed global picture of the numbers of enslaved people currently available.

The Index also identifies factors that shed light on the risk of modern slavery in each country and examines the strength of government responses in tackling this issue for the 20 countries at the top and bottom of the Index ranking. The Index examines the priority given to rooting out modern slavery, the methods used to address the problem, and how they could be improved for each country.

The Global Slavery Index was created in consultation with an international panel of experts from international organizations, think tanks and academic institutions.  The Index has been endorsed by individuals including Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Julia Gillard; and leading philanthropists, Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson and Mo Ibrahim, as well as academics, business leaders, and policy makers.

The Global Slavery Index report can be found at www.globalslaveryindex.org

About the Walk Free Foundation

The Walk Free Foundation is a global organisation with a mission to end modern slavery in our generation by mobilising a global activist movement, generating the highest quality research, enlisting business and raising unprecedented levels of capital to drive change in those countries and industries bearing the greatest responsibility for modern slavery today.

The Walk Free Foundation will do this by:

  • Identifying countries and industries most responsible for modern slavery;
  • Identify and implement with partners the interventions in those countries and industries that will have the greatest impact on modern slavery; and
  • Critically assess our impact.  Walk Free


New global index exposes ‘modern slavery’ worldwide

Suspected members of a gang allegedly smuggling (trafficking) Chinese migrants into Europe and the United States The index included victims of human trafficking and forced labour

Nearly 30 million people around the world are living as slaves, according to a new index ranking 162 countries.

The Global Slavery Index 2013 says India has the highest number of people living in conditions of slavery at 14 million.

But Mauritania has the highest proportional figure with about 4% of its population enslaved.

The report’s authors hope it will help governments tackle what they call a “hidden crime”.

‘Better measure’

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Estimated number of slaves

  1. India – 13,956,010
  2. China – 2,949,243
  3. Pakistan – 2,127,132
  4. Nigeria – 701,032
  5. Ethiopia – 651,110
  6. Russia – 516,217
  7. Thailand – 472,811
  8. DR Congo – 462,327
  9. Burma – 384,037
  10. Bangladesh – 343,192

The index was compiled by Australian-based rights organisation Walk Free Foundation using a definition of modern slavery that includes debt bondage, forced marriage and human trafficking.

“A lot of governments won’t like hearing what we have to say,” WFF chief executive Nick Grono told the French news agency Agence France-Presse.

“Those governments that want to engage with us, we will be very open to engaging and looking at ways in which we can better measure the issue of modern slavery.”

The organisation’s estimate of 29.8 million slaves worldwide is higher than other attempts to quantify modern slavery. The International Labour Organisation estimates that almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour.

India, China, Pakistan and Nigeria have the highest numbers of people enslaved, the charity said.

Continue reading the main story

Proportional ranking

  1. Mauritania
  2. Haiti
  3. Pakistan
  4. India
  5. Nepal
  6. Moldova
  7. Benin
  8. Ivory Coast
  9. The Gambia
  10. Gabon

Together with five other countries, they account for three-quarters of the total estimated number of people in modern slavery worldwide.

The report said India’s ranking was mostly due to the exploitation of Indians citizens within the country itself.

While the highest proportion of slaves is in Mauritania, with many people inheriting slave status from their ancestors, Haiti is second in the index and Pakistan is third.

The new survey has the backing of world figures including former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mrs Clinton said that although the index was not perfect, it provided a starting point, according to the Associated Press.

“I urge leaders around the world to view this index as a call to action, and to stay focused on the work of responding to this crime.”  bbc