Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mike Butler: A world with 30-million slaves

There are around 30 million slaves in the world today, according to the first Global Slavery Index Report by the Walk Free Foundation. The 10 countries with the highest number of enslaved or exploited workers are: India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russian Federation, Thailand, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Mauritania, with about 150,000 slaves, retains the highest proportion of enslaved people in the world, with aspects of "chattel slavery" that back to the American experience of the institution, where human beings are considered "full property of their masters who exercise total ownership over them and their descendants."
Many slaves in the West African nation were born into classes that have toiled as slaves for generations. Haiti, with 200,000 slaves, has the second-highest proportion of slavery in the world. Many of its slaves are children. Child slavery in Haiti stems from the cultural practice called "restavek," where poor families send children to work in return for room and board in the homes of richer families, arrangements that often lead to abuse. Street children, many of whom are runaway restaveks, can end up being trafficked into forced begging and commercial sexual exploitation. Some of those Haitian children end up in the U.S. or other parts of the Caribbean.
Slavery continues in countries that New Zealand trades with and accepts numerous migrants from.
Of the countries with the highest absolute number of slaves, India has 14 million and Pakistan has 3 million. China has 2 million.
The report slams Pakistan for its lack of organization tackling the problem.
Government efforts to address modern slavery in Pakistan are poorly coordinated and executed. There are still large gaps in rules and regulations and no rehabilitation programs for people affected by modern slavery seem to be in place.
India's experience with slavery is particularly harsh.
India's challenges are immense. India exhibits the full spectrum of different forms of modern slavery, from severe forms of inter-generational bonded labor across various industries to the worst forms of child labor, commercial sexual exploitation, and forced and servile marriage." An inefficient legal system in India, a country of 1.2 billion people, discourages victims from seeking help from law enforcement. Those who lack identification papers are even more vulnerable, because they cannot prove their identity.
After the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 officially ended slavery throughout the British Empire, and the civil war and the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in December 1865 ended slavery throughout the United States, most in the western world would hold that treating human beings as chattels is unthinkable.

Report: Slavery traps nearly 30 million people worldwide

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