The Strategist

Walk Free Foundation: North Korea and India are topping the Global Slavery Index

05/31/2016 - 14:22

The human rights and charity foundation Walk Free, leading the fight against slavery, published its latest Global Slavery Index. The document says that by now, there are 46 million people are working in slave-like conditions throughout the world. Most of them are residing in India and North Korea. However, cases of slavery have been observed in all 167 countries, where the WFF studied the situation.

45.8 million people are living in slavery, according to the Global Slavery Index - a study conducted by human rights and charity organization Walk Free Foundation. The index describes the situation with slavery in 167 countries and the world’s territories. Compared with the year 2014, the number of slaves has increased by 10 million people.

According to the report, cases of slavery in the past year (the index is an annual report, issued for the third time) were observed in all 167 countries and territories studied by the WFF. 58% of all modern slaves live in five countries - India (record for the number of slaves in absolute numbers - 18.35 million), China (3.39 million), Pakistan (2.13 million), Bangladesh (1.53 million) and Uzbekistan (1.23 million). If we take percentage ratio to a country’s total population, then the leaders are North Korea (4.37%), Uzbekistan (3.97%) and Cambodia (1.65%). At the same time, North Korea is the only country in the world whose legislation does not contain an explicit prohibition of slavery. 

Reuters interviewed founder and leader of the organization, Australian billionaire and philanthropist Andrew Forrest. He called on countries to stop trade relations with the worst offenders. "We must make it clear that we are not going to put up with slavery. If a regime is involved in it, then we do not need to trade with it", - said Mr. Forrest.

According to Mr. Forrest, he is ready to take criticism of his organization’s conclusions, given the way the data for the study were collected. In 2016, the index was based on information given by Gallup employees. In total, they have interviewed 42 thousand people in 25 countries around the world. The information on North Korea was collected on the basis of interviews with refugees from the country, and after three visits of the organization’s representatives to the country. After that, the data was extrapolated and presented in the report. 

The Global Slavery Index’s data is strongly different from information of the International Labor Organization. The latter assumes that there are 21 million slaves in the world. The discrepancies in figures are a consequence of the WFF’s broad interpretation of slavery. It involves any work performed due to threats, violence or coercion.

It is impossible to precisely define number of labor slaves on the planet. Criminals selling women and businessmen using children labor at their factories do not keep any statistics, and, of course, do not accurately transmit the figures to the Tax Office. Therefore, the researchers mainly use anonymous opinion polls and extrapolate the obtained data. 

Walk Free is a relatively new fund, supported by many well-known businessmen - for example, founder of Virgin, Richard Branson and Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest.