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10 Countries With Shocking Cases of Modern-Day Slavery

It’s the 21st century and most countries in the world hold slavery as a crime punishable by law. However many cases of modern slavery are recorded every year. According to the Global Slavery Index, there could be close to 40.3 million slaves in the world! The major types of modern-day slavery include but not limited forced marriages, forced labor, child labor, state-imposed labor, bonded labor, organ trafficking, sexual exploitation or trafficking of both adults and minor, etc.

According to the International Labor Organization, 26% of modern-day slaves are the little innocent souls. Most are caught up in the jaws of human trafficking where they are separated from their families and taken to a whole new place where they become vulnerable and easily manipulated. The modern-day slave industry also ranks as a multi-billion dollar industry registering close to a mind-boggling $35 billion! Take a look at the top ten countries in the world with the highest cases of modern-day slavery.


India is one of the third world countries with the highest number of modern slaves. According to the 2016 survey conducted by Global Survey Index, India topped the list with more than 18 million people in slavery. The types of modern-day slavery in India include child trafficking, forced marriages, sex exploitation, forced recruitment into the outlawed militia groups, bonded labor, and forced child labor. The Indian government has not been able to draw clear borders between human trafficking and sexual exploitation. It is said that the common form of modern-day slavery is bondage slavery. This is where people are forcefully taken as property and forced to work to compensate for the loan owned. It is said to be evident mostly in the brick-making industry. The Indian government has made efforts to outlaw the act, but human trafficking and any other form of modern-day slavery are still prevalent.[1][2]


With its mighty economic status, China is among the countries in the world with evidence of modern-day slavery. According to the Global Slavery Index survey conducted in 2016, 3.8 million Chinese faces modern-day slavery. That means there were 2.8 victims of slavery in every 1000 people in China. The most common types of modern-day slavery in China are forced labor, forced labor, sex exploitation of both adults and minor, state-imposed labor, forced marriages and believe it or not, organ trafficking. Forced labor occurs as a result of the high demand for cheap labor in the manufacturing industry in China. Currently, China holds position two as the second largest importer in the world, putting its economic status at the top in the world. The workers in many manufacturing industries face harsh working conditions with minimum to no wages at the end of the day.

Also, many illegal foreigners flood into China looking for work. The record has it that an estimated 50,000 Vietnamese make their way into China illegally. State-imposed labor occurs whereby prisoners are forced to walk under harsh conditions in many prisons as a way of punishment. Forced sex exploitation in China whereby foreigners are trafficked into the country and abused sexually by their captors is also prevalent. Vulnerable women come from neighboring countries including North Korea and Cambodia. Women from Africa and America also are said to be at risk. A small number of women in China has brewed grounds for forced marriages. The vice is widely practiced in rural China. Organ trafficking is another. Prisoners are mostly at risk of having their organs harvested and sold in China.[3]


Pakistan also makes the list of countries with high cases of modern-day slavery. According to the Global Slavery Index survey conducted in 2016, 2 million people in Pakistan are victims of modern-day slavery. Forced labor is the leading form of slavery in Pakistan, spanning across its manufacturing industry. United States Department of Labor established that brick making industry and the agricultural sector had the highest number of forced laborers. Pakistan though is working towards outlawing the vice entirely by 2030.[4]


Apart from poor living standards of the people in Bangladesh, it is among the countries with a high number of modern-day slavery victims. It is estimated that more than half a million people in Bangladesh are slaves. The common type of slavery in this country is hard labor with pitiful wages. People work more hours under the harsh condition for meager earnings. Bangladesh government is blamed majorly because of corruption and lack of accountability and efforts to stop the vice.[5]


According to the Global Survey Index done in 2016, 1,236,600 people in Uzbekistan are facing modern-day slavery, making 3.97% of its total population. People in this country face forced labor in the cotton industry. During autumn, people in Uzbekistan abandon all other duties and head to the cotton fields to harvest cotton. It is said that this activity runs for weeks. It is a rule and a must-do. Anyone who goes against this rule has no choice but to face harsh punishments. When the results were released in 2016 by Global Survey, the government in Uzbekistan came gun blazing and denied the allegation that its people were facing modern-day slavery. In recent times though, it is said that the government in this country has been making efforts in abolishing forced cotton picking by its people.[6]


Cambodia has the highest cases of human trafficking. A survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund revealed that 36% of the total populations in Cambodia were children in sex slavery. Children in this country are the most vulnerable to forced sex and prostitution. In some cases, children are locked away while virgins and preserved for the mighty men it the society who are willing to pay the highest price to marry them forcefully. Men are not spared also; they are forced into harsh labor in agricultural and manufacturing industries in the region. The government in this country, however, has made an effort to restore sanity among its people. A law was introduced in 2008 to curb human trafficking they have even set date 12 of every December to observe anti-human trafficking.[7]


Despite the country outlawing slavery in 1981, it still faces the challenges of modern-day slavery. This African country was the last country in the world abolish slavery and the slave trade. According to the 2016 Global Index Survey, Mauritania recorded 43,000 people facing modern-day slavery. The biggest victim of this menace is the Harantine ethnic group. The common type of slavery in this country is whereby the minority groups in the country are held hostage by the high and mighty in the society and are forced to work for them. Curbing the situation has become a challenge since the activity is conducted under top-notch secrecy and strong taboos.[8]


According to the Global Slavery Survey conducted, over 1.2 million Iranians are facing modern-day slavery. Although Iran is among the top hundred countries in the world with the highest nominal gross domestic product per capita, the country still has a challenge of slavery. According to the survey, in every 1000 people in Iran, 16 are likely to be slaves. Over 1000000 Iranians are practically slaves. Just like the other countries, Iran records a high number of human trafficking and organ trafficking. The country also is known as the en-route point for human traffickers. Failure by Iran’s government to stop slavery has made the United States set measures geared to salvage the situation.[9]

South Sudan

This newly-formed nation does face not only disastrous wars but also typical modern-day slavery. South Sudan faces many challenges including economic and political stability. According to the survey, South Sudan recorded 465,000 people facing slavery. The common type of modern-day slavery in this country is human trafficking. Children are sold in exchange for firearms or money. The outlawed militias in this country also have had a significant influence in increasing cases of modern-day slavery. Forced early child marriages are also widely practiced in South Sudan. The number of people facing slavery in South Sudan contributes to the 9.2 million Africans said to be victims of modern-day slavery. The government’s effort to eliminate modern slavery has proved futile.[10]


With a population of 4,847,000, 451,000 Eritreans are victims of modern-day slavery putting Eritrea at the top position with the highest number of victims in Africa. The main form of slavery in this country is the state-imposed labor whereby the government forces its citizens to work without pay. It is reported that the Eritrean government has shown no efforts in stopping modern-day slavery. It has even been ranked the top ten countries in the world with no action in ending modern-day slavery.[11]

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