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More than 35 million people worldwide are being held as slaves

The UK was named among the countries with the most comparatively effective response to modern slavery

Kashmira Gander
Monday 17 November 2014 20:27 GMT
Anti-slavery activists rally outside Parliament
Anti-slavery activists rally outside Parliament (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

More than 35 million men, women, and children across the world are being held as slaves, according to a bleak new report.

The document highlighted how swathes of people are currently trapped by forced labour, human trafficking, forced marriages, debt bondage and or commercial sexual exploitation.

The Global Slavery Index, an annual study by Australian NGO the Walk Free Foundation (WFF), also revealed that the 10 countries where slavery is most common account for 71 per cent of the overall global total.

When slavery is measured by absolute numbers, India remained at top of the list where around 14.29 million people are enslaved, followed by China with 3.24 million, Pakistan with 2.06 million, Uzbekistan at 1.2 million, and 1.05 million in Russia.

At 4 per cent, the West African nation of Mauritania had the highest proportion of its population in modern slavery, closely followed by Uzbekistan with 3.97 per cent, Haiti 2.3 with per cent, Qatar at 1.36 per cent and 1.14 per cent in India.

The report went on to praise countries including the Netherlands, Sweden, the US, Australian, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, the UK, Georgia and Austria for taking the most action to end modern slavery.

The Netherlands was named as having the strongest response to slavery out of the 167 countries that were assessed, owing to its victim assistance programmes, criminal justice system, and response to contextual factors which make people more vulnerable to slavery.

But only Norway was recognised as having comprehensive services for men, women and children, which covered both emergency support as well as long term reintegration services.

Countries including Georgia, the Philippines, Jamaica, and Macedonia were commended for making strong efforts despite their limited resources.

Meanwhile, North Korea topped the list of nations which were making the least effort to protect the victims of slavery, followed by Iran, Syria, Eritrea the Central African Republic, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, the Republic of Congo and Iraq.

The report comes after Prime Minister David Cameron highlighted the issue of modern slavery in his speech to the Conservative party conference earlier this year, and a bill to tackle it is moving through parliament.

But Olly Buston, WFF’s movement director, said the paper does not go far enough.

Olly Buston, WFF’s movement director told the Guardian: “There is still a chance that the modern slavery bill will make Britain’s anti-slavery laws the best in the world.

“But the draft bill must be strengthened. Children and other victims of slavery need to be properly protected. And the bill must ensure that businesses take action to end slavery in their supply chains,” he added.

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