Official Government Wires
humanitarian news and analysis
a service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Anatomy of modern-day slavery
NAIROBI, 18 October 2013 (IRIN) - More than two centuries after slavery
was outlawed, 29.8 million people globally continue to be subjected to
new and diverse forms of servitude, a new index ranking 162 countries
Haiti, India, Nepal, Mauritania and Pakistan have the highest
prevalence of modern-day slavery, according to the first edition of the
Global Slavery Index (compiled by
Australian-based rights organization Walk Free Foundation), while in
absolute numbers, China, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Pakistan have the
most people enslaved. In India, almost 14 million people are believed
to be victims of modern slavery.
Contemporary servitude, however, is "poorly understood, so it remains
hidden within houses, communities and worksites", it stated.
According to Gulnara Shahinian
LangID=E> , the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery,
its causes and consequences, "contemporary slavery. often occurs in
hard to reach areas of the country or what is perceived as the `private
realm', such as in the case of domestic servitude.
"In today's world, slavery takes many different forms: human
trafficking, forced labour, bonded labour, servitude. These people are
controlled and forced to work against their will and their dignity and
rights are denied."
IRIN looks at some of the major forms of modern-day slavery.
Forced labour: The International Labour Organization (ILO) considers
compulsory or forced labour
O_CODE:C029> any "work or service exacted from any person under the
threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or
Common forms of forced labour can be found in under-regulated or
labour-intensive industries, such as agriculture and fisheries,
construction, manufacturing, domestic work, and the sex industry. A
2013 ILO report
ents/publication/wcms_214472.pdf> , highlighted some of the brutal
conditions under which people are made to work in the fisheries
industry. This category can apply to multiple forms of slavery, with
people being forced to work in a variety of ways, often including the
threat of violence or debt bondage.
ILO estimates that around 21 million people are victims of forced
Debt bondage: This is the most common form of contemporary slavery,
according to the London-based NGO Anti-Slavery International
which says "a person becomes a bonded labourer when their labour is
demanded as a means of repayment for a loan. The person is then tricked
or trapped into working for very little or no pay, often for seven days
In Pakistan, the Asian Development Bank estimates that 1.8 million
people are bonded labourers, primarily working in brick kilns as well
as in agriculture, fisheries and mining. In Brazil's rural sector, a
2010 UN report
ents/publication/wcms_144676.pdf> found that many poor workers were
enticed to distant areas by intermediaries, who charged an advance on
their salaries, promising high wages. The workers found themselves
paying hefty off loans for the cost of their transport and food,
without any clear indication of how their debt or wages were being
Similar practices occur in Bangladesh
Human trafficking: The UN Convention Against Transnational Organized
human trafficking as the "recruitment, transportation, transfer,
harbouring or receipt of persons", through the threat or use of force
or other means of coercion "for the purpose of exploitation".
In Benin, the International Office for Migration estimates that more
than 40,000 children are the victims of trafficking
. The Global Slavery
Index notes that many of these children are trafficked to countries
within the region, as well as from rural to urban areas within one
Forced or servile marriage: This occurs when an individual does not
enter into a marriage with full and free consent. The 1956
Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery
any practice where "a woman, without the right to refuse, is promised
or given in marriage on payment of a consideration in money or in kind
to her parents, guardian, family or any other person or group".
Transfer of a woman by her husband in return for payment, as well as
inheritance of a woman following the death of her husband, is also
outlawed. While the definition only applies to women and girls (who
bear the brunt of forced marriages) there have been calls for it to
cover boys and men too.
Child slavery: Child slavery and exploitation, including the use of
children in armed conflict, is another common form of contemporary
slavery. The Worst Forms of Child Labour
> , defined by ILO include the sale and trafficking of children,
compulsory labour, serfdom, and the compulsory use of children in armed
conflict. In Haiti, children from rural households are sent to urban
areas to work as domestic house helps for wealthier families and can
then be exploited. Around 1 in 10 children in Haiti are exploited,
according to the Global Slavery Index.
While child slavery remains a significant problem, the number in child
labour around the world reduced to 168 million in 2012 from 246 million
in 2000, according to ILO.
Chattel slavery: A situation where a person or group of people is
considered the property of a slave-owner, and can be traded, is the
least common form of slavery today. Slave-owners in these situations
control victims and their descendants, and therefore individuals are
often born enslaved.
Although slavery was finally criminalized in Mauritania in 2007
tough-to-enforce> , leading to the freeing of many people, few
slave-owners have been convicted of the practice, and chattel slavery
remains a serious problem. The Global Slavery Index estimates there are
140,000-160,000 slaves in Mauritania.
Read report online
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United
Feedback | Terms &
Conditions | RSS feeds News
Feeds | About IRIN
UPI distributes certain third party submissions from official government news agencies, such as this article. Since UPI does not control the material included in these submissions, UPI does not guarantee the accuracy, integrity or quality of the material in such submissions, and UPI does not endorse any of the views or opinions expressed therein.