A newly released report indicates that close to 46 million people worldwide are living in modern slavery. The Australia-based Walk Free Foundation’s global slavery index tracks the number of people stuck in “situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception.” The types of industries featured most prominently in the report are farming, fishing and manufacturing, commercial sex work and forced marriage.
The survey is based on 42,000 interviews of people in 25 countries. Asian countries were the source over half of the world’s slaves. India had the highest number (18.3 million), and North Korea had the highest proportion, with 4.3 percent of the population believed to be enslaved. The numbers represent an increase of 28 percent from Walk Free Foundation’s last survey. On the legal front, all Asian countries except North Korea now have laws that make some forms of slavery illegal.
Walk Free Foundation Chairman Andrew Forrest called on government and business leaders to take the lead in combatting slavery. “Businesses that don’t actively look for forced labor within their supply chains are standing on a burning platform,” he said.