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Report Finds 30 Million People Still Live like Slaves

Update Date: Oct 17, 2013 12:05 PM EDT

Even though people like to believe that slavery only existed in our history, a new report examining living conditions, cultural customs and poor government enforcement of laws found that people are still living like slaves. In the first ever and most comprehensive slavery index to be compiled according to the report, researchers found that slavery is still very much real in modern day societies. In this Global Slavery Index, the authors stated that around 30 million people throughout the world can be classified as slaves, with the most of them residing in India.

"Today some people are still born into hereditary slavery, a staggering but harsh reality, particularly in parts of West Africa and South Asia," the report wrote according to TIME. "Other victims are captured or kidnapped before being sold or kept for exploitation, whether through 'marriage,' unpaid labor on fishing boats, or as domestic workers."

This report ranked 162 countries using data on human trafficking, slavery, slavery-like customs, such as debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, sale of children, exploitation of children, and forced labor. Based from these factors, the report found that a total of 29.8 million people live in modern day slavery situations. The previous estimate reported by the International Labor Organization last year was 20.9 million. From the newest statistic, the researchers reported that 76 percent of the enslaved people came from India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The index stated that Mauritania, which is a country located in West Africa, ranked the highest in terms of the percentage of slaves within a population. In this nation, four percent of the total population of 3.4 million is enslaved. India, however, took first place in absolute numbers with 14 million slaves. When examining India, the researchers reported that the government fails greatly when it comes to enforcing anti-slavery laws. Particularly within this nation, bonded labor is still at large even though it was banned under the Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act in 1976.  China and Pakistan were ranked two and three with 2.9 million and 2.1 million slaves respectively.

"Until recently, the response to human trafficking focused almost exclusively on the sexual exploitation of women and children, and other forms of human trafficking including those affecting men were barely recognized," the report stated. "National leaders tend not to recognize the violent criminality of bonded labor and instead see it as a vestige of poverty."

The report was published by Walk Free Foundation, which is an Australian-based rights group.

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