The third Global Slavery Index for 2016 has revealed that an estimated 45.8 million men, women and children around the world are today trapped in modern slavery – 28% more than previously estimated.
According to the findings conducted on 167 most populous countries and released on Tuesday, Nigeria ranks 23 in 2016,
The flagship research report published by the Walk Free Foundation observed that the 45.8 population are enslaved through human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage or commercial sexual exploitation.
The 2016 estimate is an increase on the estimate provided in the previous edition of the Index. As efforts to measure this hidden crime are relatively new, it is premature to assert that modern slavery has increased in the intervening period.
Indeed, the results from Global Slavery Index website, quoting Walk Free Foundation, the national surveys reveal a mixed picture, with increases in some national estimates and decreases in others. For example, the national survey in Bangladesh resulted in an estimate of 1.5 million people in modern slavery, an increase from the previous estimate of 680,900 people. Similarly, the national survey in Myanmar led to an increase in the estimate-from 231,600 in 2014 to 500,000 in this edition.
For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims of the tragic transatlantic slave trade, one of the darkest chapters in human history.
For the United Nations, every year on 25 March, the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. The International Day also aims to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.
North Korea is the country with the greatest prevalence of modern slavery, with 4.37% of its population estimated to be enslaved. It is also the country with the weakest government response in terms of actions taken to combat modern slavery. The next highest prevalence of slavery is found in Uzbekistan (3.97%), followed by Cambodia (1.65%).
In terms of absolute numbers, India remains the highest with an estimated 18.35 million enslaved people, followed by China (3.39m), Pakistan (2.13m), Bangladesh (1.53m) and Uzbekistan (1.23m). Combined, these five countries account for almost 58% of the world’s enslaved, or 26.6 million people.
The 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates that 28% more people are enslaved than reported in the 2014 edition. This significant increase is due to enhanced data collection and research methodology. Survey research for the 2016 Global Slavery Index included over 42,000 interviews conducted in 53 languages across 25 countries, including 15 state-level surveys in India. These representative surveys cover 44% of the global population.
Meanwhile, since the index started, only a few countries have taken strong actions to address the menace. Among these countries are Netherlands ranking topmost, the United States of America ranking second, the United Kingdom third, Sweden ranks fourth, with Australia fifth on the table.
Sadly, countries with the highest prevalence have taken even less actions to address the problem. It is assumed that governments of these countries have failed to pay attention to the general wellbeing of citizens.
For instance, North Korea that leads the table of slavery index also ranks 161 in terms of action to reduce slavery. Meanwhile, at 160 is Iran that ranks 20; Eritrea is at 159, Equatorial Guinea at 158 and Hong Kong at 157. This is not good enough to reduce global slavery to the minimum.
However, by the description of Walk Free Foundation of modern day slavery, most Nigerians living in places like Lagos, Kano and Calabar could be classified as modern day slaves.