An estimated 30 million people worldwide are living in modern-day slavery, according to the inaugural Global Slavery Index published yesterday. The report ranks countries on the prevalence of modern slavery and Namibia is ranked at 46th, while Mauritania is at number one, the country with highest prevalence of modern slavery in the world along with 14 other African countries also among the 20 worst performers. The index, to be published annually, is the first of its kind. The report did not go into details on how it ranked Namibia at 46th position.
Mauritania is ranked worst on the index because of the highest estimated proportion of its population enslaved of any country in the world. The West African country is thought to have an estimated 150 000 slaves in a population of only 3.8 million. In the top ten of the index are Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia and Gabon.
The research, which makes recommendations to policy makers in Africa and around the world, revealed that extreme poverty, conflict and traditional practices such as child marriage and hereditary slavery are all factors in the high rates of enslavement in many African countries. The index also found that Kenya is host to thousands of displaced people from neighbouring countries including Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia. These migrants, often irregular, can be subjected to slavery like conditions, the report says.
In terms of top performers, Mauritius ranks 143 out of 162 on the index and leads the region in terms of stability and the protection of human and workers' rights. South Africa is ranked 115 and is also singled out for praise by the report for its anti-slavery policies.
The index estimates that over 29 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery worldwide. Haiti, a Caribbean nation where child slavery is also widespread, follows Mauritania in second place on the index, with Pakistan in third. The report estimates that almost three quarters of the world's slaves are in Asia, with 14.7 million in India alone and another 2.9 million in China.
"It would be comforting to think that slavery is a relic of history, but it remains a scar on humanity on every continent. This is the first slavery index but it can already shape national and global efforts to root out modern slavery across the world. We now know that just ten countries are home to over three quarters of those trapped in modern slavery. These nations must be the focus of global efforts," said Nick Grono, CEO of Walk Free Foundation.
"Most governments don't dig deeply into slavery for a lot of bad reasons. There are exceptions, but many governments don't want to know about people who can't vote, who are hidden away, and are likely to be illegal anyway. The laws are in place, but the tools and resources and the political will are lacking. And since hidden slaves can't be counted it is easy to pretend they don't exist. The index aims to change that," said Professor Kevin Bales, the lead researcher on the index.
The modern slavery prevalence estimate index is compiled by looking at the estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population, a measure of child marriage and data from human trafficking in and out of a country.
The Global Slavery Index was created in consultation with an international panel of experts from international organisations, think tanks and academic institutions. The index has been endorsed by individuals including former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, former prime ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Julia Gillard, and leading philanthropists Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson and Mo Ibrahim, as well as academics, business leaders, and policy makers.
The Walk Free Foundation is a global organisation with a mission to end modern slavery by mobilising a global activist movement, generating the highest quality research, enlisting business and raising unprecedented levels of capital to drive change in those countries and industries bearing the greatest responsibility for modern slavery today.