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.
With a population of 1.2 billion and some states as populous as entire countries, India comes in fourth on the Index in terms of proportion of the population enslaved.
The research, which makes recommendations to policy makers in India and around the world, reveals:
· India has the full spectrum of modern slavery, from forms of inter-generational bonded labour, to child labour, commercial sexual exploitation, and forced and servile marriage.
· By far the biggest problem in India is the exploitation of Indians within India itself. While this is in part a result of internal trafficking from poor rural communities, many Indians are enslaved much closer to home.
· Indians in their own villages are often trapped in debt bondage to a local landowner or born in to slavery because of caste, customary, social and hereditary obligations. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have particularly high levels of hereditary debt bondage in rural areas.
The Index estimates that over 29 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery worldwide. 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.
"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," said Nick Grono, CEO of Walk Free Foundation.
"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 Grono.
"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," said Professor Kevin Bales, the lead researcher on the Index.
"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 Bales.
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.
--IBNS (Posted on 17-10-2013)