Report: 50M Trapped in Modern Slavery
The Global Slavery Index 2023, released on Wednesday, reveals that in 2021, some 50M people worldwide were living in conditions that qualify as modern slavery — an increase of 10M over a five-year period.
- The Global Slavery Index 2023, released on Wednesday, reveals that in 2021, some 50M people worldwide were living in conditions that qualify as modern slavery — an increase of 10M over a five-year period.1
- About 28M of these people were affected by forced labor, and 22M were living in forced marriages, the report issued by the human rights charity Walk Free said, pointing to a worsening situation due to armed conflicts, environmental degradation, and COVID.2
- In addition to exploitative labor and forced marriage, modern slavery, according to the organization's definition, includes "debt bondage, forced commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, slavery-like practices, and the sale and exploitation of children."3
- North Korea (104.6 people per 1K population), Eritrea (90.3), and Mauritania (32) have the highest per capita prevalence of modern slavery, with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, and Russia also among the top 10 countries, according to the report.4
- Two-thirds of all forced labor cases are related to global supply chains, the report added, with G20 countries currently importing $468B worth of at-risk commodities ranging from electronics to solar panels, up from $354B in the previous report.5
- Six G20 countries were found to be among those with the most people living in slave-like conditions, including India (11M), China (5.8M), and the US (1.1M), which the study claimed to be by far the largest importer of goods often produced under coercive conditions, at $169.6B.6
Sources: 1Al Jazeera, 2The Japan Times, 3Walk Free, 4France 24, 5CNA, and 6The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Australian Financial Review. The current report is shameful proof that modern slavery isn't just a poor country issue but is also rampant in the world's richest economies. While consumers should shop responsibly, it's first and foremost up to governments, including in the West, to stop paying lip service and finally put in place the necessary policies and laws to protect the most vulnerable people from forced labor.
- Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by CNN. For all the justified criticism the Index voices, it also notes that an increasing number of countries have introduced laws to combat modern slavery, forcing companies to audit their supply chains. In addition, 137 countries now criminalize human trafficking, and nearly 150 countries introduced action plans on modern slavery. There's still a lot of work to be done, but the international community is on the right track.
- Narrative C, as provided by The Age. The report proves that solar panels have become one of the commodities most at risk of modern slavery. While there's no doubt that the climate crisis must be addressed, the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy must not proceed at the expense of human rights, in this case, the rights of those at the bottom of the global supply chains for "green" energy products. Policies that ignore this problem aren't sustainable and have no future.