You learned in school about the four million slaves that existed in the United States until the abolishment of slavery in 1860 in a way that made the practice seem extinct. In reality, today there are more slaves in the world than ever before as the modern slave trade is even more prominent and hellish as it was in the 19th century. It is estimated that there are 45.8 million enslaved people throughout the according to the Walk Free Foundation, which publishes an annual Global Slavery Index to measure the prevalence of modern slavery.
For the 2016 index, Walk Free used a detailed and tedious methodology that included interviews with 42,000 people across 25 countries and 53 languages. Walk Free defined a slave as “someone who is held against his or her will or otherwise forced to work through violence or threats of violence or abuse of authority.” Their research proved there is no specific profile of a modern day slave, as they range from Yazidi girls kidnapped to be sex slaves in the Islamic state of Iraq to Uzbek citizens picking cotton for their government for no pay.
Additionally, results showed there is no formulated way a person ends up enslaved, as it varies from country and region, but countries with dictator type governments do tend to have more enslaved people. Some countries, typically across Asia, practice ancient institutions of bondage such as debt-slavery, while civil wars and jihadist violence in Africa and the Middle East put millions of people in the way of human traffickers because of their displaced statuses. That being said, even the freest countries in the world, including the United States, have thousands of modern day slaves within them. The modern day slavery trade is worldwide.
Overall, Walk Free concluded that there are 10 million more enslaved people world-wide than previously thought. India had the highest number (18.4M), followed by China (3.4M) and Pakistan (2.1M). Although the highest numbers of slaves are found in less developed countries, the developed world is not unaffected by this problem, the nature of their human trafficking trade is just better hidden. An estimated 58,000 slaves are in the U.S. alone.
Governments, businesses and religious leaders are progressively trying to combat modern slavery especially in the United States and United Kingdom. The American government, along with many other countries, has illegalized the import of slave-made products. Additionally, the U.K. enacted a Modern Slavery Act that made all large companies thoroughly check their supply chains for use of forced labor. These efforts and more are applauded by the foundation, but they are just battles in the war to abolish modern day slavery for good.
Source: Wall Street Journal