Melbourne: India has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of people in the world trapped in modern slavery with 18.35 million victims of forced labour, ranging from prostitution and begging, according to a new report, which estimated that nearly 46 million people are enslaved globally.
An Indian bonded child labourer crying during a raid and rescue operation conducted in New Delhi. File pic/AFP
According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index released by Australia-based human rights group Walk Free Foundation yesterday, an estimated 45.8 million people, including women and children, are subject to some form of modern slavery in the world, compared to 35.8 million in 2014.
The report said India has the highest absolute numbers of people trapped in slavery with 18.35 million slaves among its 1.3 billion population while North Korea has the highest incidence (4.37 per cent of the population) and the weakest government response to deal with it.
In the last report in 2014, India had nearly 14.3 million people enslaved. Incidences of slavery were found in all 167 countries in the index, with Asian countries occupy the top five for people trapped in slavery. Behind India was China (3.39 million), Pakistan (2.13 million), Bangladesh (1.53 million) and Uzbekistan (1.23 million).
Modern slavery refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception.
The research noted that while India had more people enslaved than any other country, it had made significant progress in introducing measures to tackle the problem. “It has criminalised trafficking, slavery, forced labour, child prostitution and forced marriage. The Indian government is currently tightening legislation against human trafficking, with tougher punishment for repeat offenders. It will offer victims protection and recovery support,” it said.