Global Slavery Index

Global Slavery Index

The Global Slavery Index (GSI) is a vital resource for comprehending the global problem of modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

The Walk Free Foundation annually publishes the Global Social Index (GSI), which offers a comprehensive look at the hidden struggles that millions of people who are exploitation victims endure. The GSI provides insightful information into the nature and extent of modern slavery through thorough research and data analysis, empowering governments, organisations, and people to take action against this serious violation of human rights.

Methodology and Data Sources Used in Creating the GSI

  • Data Gathering and Surveys: The GSI collects data from a variety of sources, including federal government reports, academic studies, and national surveys. In order to gain a thorough understanding of the problem, researchers also consulted with local organisations and professionals who have first hand experience with the affected communities.

  • Definition and framework: Accurately defining the various forms of slavery presents one of the biggest challenges in conducting an assessment of the global slave trade. Forced labour, human trafficking, debt servitude, and child labour are just a few examples of the numerous indicators that the GSI takes into account. This enables a thorough evaluation and comparison of slavery across various areas and industries.

  • Estimation of Prevalence: The GSI examines both the number of people who are enslaved and the proportion of the population who are affected in each nation in order to estimate the prevalence of slavery. Researchers extrapolate data and make estimates of the global slave population using statistical modelling techniques.

  • Vulnerability Factors: Effectively combating slavery requires an understanding of the vulnerabilities that contribute to it. The GSI identifies and examines various socioeconomic factors that raise people's risk of falling victim to exploitation, including poverty, illiteracy, political unrest, and gender inequality.

  • Regional and Sectoral Analysis: To provide a detailed understanding of the various manifestations of slavery, the GSI breaks down its findings by regions and sectors. Targeted interventions can be made with the help of this regional and sectoral analysis, which also identifies the regions where slavery is most pervasive.

  • Strengths and Limitations: The GSI is aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of its approach. It draws attention to possible data gaps, problems with data collection, and the challenges of uncovering covert or illegal activity. This openness is necessary for correctly interpreting the results and identifying areas in need of improvement for subsequent editions.

  Modern slavery

The term "modern slavery," according to the index, refers to exploitation situations in which a person is unable to refuse or leave due to coercion, violence, threats, deception, or abuses of power. 

    • The term "modern slavery" serves as a catch-all for a wide range of abuses, including forced labour, forced marriage, debt bondage, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, practices that are similar to slavery, forced or servile marriage, and the purchase and exploitation of children.

   A general outline of what modern slavery encompasses is provided in the schematic below. 


   Source: Indianexpress

What is the status of Global Slavery Index 2023?

According to Global Slavery Index 2023,  on any given day in 2021, 50 million people were living in “modern slavery”.

  • Among these 50 million, 28 million suffer from forced labour and 22 million from forced marriages. Of these 50 million, 12 million are children.

Country-wise findings

There are three sets of key findings.

The first looks at the prevalence of modern slavery. The prevalence refers to the incidence of modern slavery per 1000 population. 

On this count, the following 10 countries are the worst offenders:

  1. North Korea
  2. Eritrea
  3. Mauritania
  4. Saudi Arabia
  5. Turkey
  6. Tajikistan
  7. United Arab Emirates
  8. Russia
  9. Afghanistan
  10. Kuwait

Following are the countries with the lowest prevalence:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Norway
  3. Germany
  4. Netherlands
  5. Sweden
  6. Denmark
  7. Belgium
  8. Ireland
  9. Japan
  10. Finland

Contributing Factors

The report identifies climate change, armed conflict, weak governance, and health emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic as key factors that have contributed to the rise in modern slavery.

  • G20 nations account for more than half of all people living in modern slavery, primarily due to the importation of products worth USD 468 billion from countries with weak worker protection, thereby worsening forced labour conditions

Causes and Drivers of Modern Slavery

  • Poverty and Economic Inequality: Poverty remains one of the primary drivers of modern slavery. People living in impoverished conditions are more vulnerable to exploitation, as they may be forced into exploitative labor or trafficked due to their desperate need for income and survival.

  • Lack of Education and Awareness: Limited access to education and awareness about labor rights and human trafficking make individuals more susceptible to manipulation and deception by traffickers and unscrupulous employers.

  • Gender Inequality: Women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, often subjected to forced labor, domestic servitude, or forced prostitution. Gender discrimination and lack of opportunities further exacerbate their vulnerability.

  • Conflict and Instability: Areas affected by armed conflict and political instability provide fertile ground for traffickers to thrive. Displaced populations, disrupted governance, and weakened law enforcement create an environment conducive to exploitation.

  • Weak Legal Frameworks and Enforcement: Inadequate legal frameworks and lax enforcement enable traffickers and exploiters to operate with impunity. Corruption and a lack of resources within law enforcement agencies can hinder efforts to combat modern slavery effectively.

  • Demand for Cheap Labor: Global demand for cheap labor in industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and construction fuels modern slavery. Employers seeking to reduce costs may exploit vulnerable workers through forced labor and debt bondage.

  • Supply Chains and Globalization: Complex global supply chains make it challenging to trace the origin of products, creating opportunities for slavery to be hidden within these networks. Companies may unknowingly or indirectly benefit from exploitative practices in their supply chains.

  • Human Trafficking Networks: Sophisticated human trafficking networks facilitate the movement and exploitation of victims across borders. These criminal networks prey on vulnerable individuals, promising them better opportunities but subjecting them to slavery instead.

  • Cultural Practices and Traditions: Certain cultural practices and traditions perpetuate slavery-like conditions, such as bonded labor, child marriage, and forced servitude, particularly in regions where these practices are deeply ingrained.

  • Migration and Smuggling: Irregular migration and human smuggling expose individuals to greater risks of falling into the hands of traffickers. Migrants seeking better opportunities may become vulnerable to exploitation during their journey or upon reaching their destination.

Addressing these underlying causes and drivers is essential to effectively combat modern slavery and create a world where every individual's rights and dignity are respected and protected. It requires coordinated efforts, strengthened legal frameworks, increased awareness, and sustainable economic development to uplift vulnerable communities and eliminate the conditions that perpetuate slavery.

Progress in Combating Modern Slavery

  • Increased Awareness: Over the years, there has been a significant increase in global awareness about modern slavery and human trafficking. Governments, organizations, and individuals are more informed about the issue, leading to increased advocacy and action.

  • Strengthened Legal Frameworks: Many countries have enacted or strengthened laws and policies to address modern slavery. These legal measures provide a stronger foundation for prosecuting traffickers, protecting victims, and preventing future exploitation.

  • International Cooperation: Collaboration between countries and international organizations has improved in the fight against modern slavery. Shared information, joint investigations, and coordinated efforts enhance the global response to this transnational crime.

  • Corporate Responsibility: More companies are recognizing their role in eradicating modern slavery from their supply chains. Corporate social responsibility initiatives and ethical sourcing practices are becoming more common, holding companies accountable for their business practices.

Despite  challenges, continued dedication and collaboration are crucial to making further progress in the fight against modern slavery. By addressing the root causes, empowering survivors, strengthening legal frameworks, and fostering international cooperation, the global community can move closer to eradicating this heinous crime and ensuring the freedom and dignity of all individuals.

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