Magazine Best Viewed in Wide Screen Format

Skip to main content.
 The chains of military despotism once fastened upon a nation, ages might pass away before they could be shaken off.   William Henry Harrison

“46 million People Live Under Modern Slavery”

Almost two-thirds of all slaves are subjected to forced labor in Asia.

(The Real Agenda News) The number of people in conditions of modern slavery, that is, any activity of where one person forces a will over another is alarming.

Almost 46 million people, 45.8 to be exact, worldwide suffer an absolute deprivation of freedom to decide their own future, over ten million more than in 2014.

About 58% of all of them are in Asia, according to the annual report issued by the Walk Free Foundation.

"There is no country in the world that is doing enough to end slavery. Everyone could do much more," said Davina P. Durban a researcher and coauthor of the report of 109 pages published today.

What experts have observed is that, paradoxically, the numbers of slaves increases while governments supposedly work to eradicate this practice.

The countries that contribute most to eliminate slavery in the world, whose governments have taken a step forward in legislation are in the West: Netherlands, USA, UK, which in 2015 passed a law requiring large companies to report on the steps taken to avoid having slavery in their supply chain.

In fact over 100 companies have already sent their reports. They include companies from Sweden, Australia, Portugal, Croatia, Spain, Belgium and Norway, according to a progress report.

But still some have a long way to go. in the UK, for example, there are 11,700 people living in slavery and in the Netherlands 17,500, according to the document.

"The most important thing in these countries is that consumers know exactly what they are buying," suggests Durban, because it is precisely at the beginning of the production process where forced slavery causes the displacement of millions of people, especially women and children.

Asia is the continent where slavery is practiced more in any of its forms: sexual exploitation, forced labor in weaving, garment factories, marriages of convenience, and so on.

"It coincides with its high rate of population", explains the expert who says that in proportion to the total population, North Korea is the country where modern slavery is more damning.

"Although information about this country is difficult to verify, a real element is that there are convictions by the state to its citizens and those convictions include forced labor for years," explains Durban.

India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan are found to have the highest rates of slavery in the world, although it is true that the former British colony is among the countries that more efforts makes to address it, reads the report.

In Asia, the number of inhabitants is not the only factor that influences slavery. This condition also coincides with the profile of men and women who live there, who are considered to be "relatively vulnerable" and, of course, much more prone to this condition than in Western nations.

"They are poorer, less educated, with a much more hostile climate, with a distinct lack of human rights," lists the expert, explaining that these factors favor an abyss that can lead to slavery.

Slavery knocks on the door of refugees more easily in places like in Iraq and especially Syria are generating Western-sponsored wars and conflict continue to kill millions of people every year.

"Being a refugee and makes you more vulnerable. That leads people to join others around them who are in the same situation, which in turn leads to the formation of ghettoes whose status access to public services such as education and health becomes very difficult," says Durban.

"It is precisely in that situation of risk and total surrender when there is a real risk of falling into slavery."

One situation that worries the Foundation is the disappearance of people, especially women, children or the disabled on the journey that many refugees from conflict sites make to places like Europe.

"You can not conceive the end of slavery in isolation from other problems in the world," said Andrew Forrest, founder and co-chairman of the Australian organization Walk Free Foundation.

The report, the third of the foundation, is based on interviews conducted face to face in the native language in 167 countries.

The Islamic State (ISIS) is one of the many organizations that forces women into prostitution or nonconsensual sex, men to work in forced labor camps and children to become soldiers.

According to Walk Free Foundation, there is still no reliable and real data that reflect the harsh reality of slavery worldwide. What the organization has collected are experiences from people that represent still images about the reality.

"It is difficult to specify the type of slavery practiced in many territories," explains Durban, who hopes to have more information in future reports. "The same happened with Boko Haram in Nigeria, which we now know much more about than five years ago," she concludes.

© Luis Miranda