The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The Global Slavery Index 2013 Paints a Bleak Picture of Modern Slavery

Modern slavery is a complex and ongoing problem around the world. From forced labor to human trafficking, slavery is characterized by the dispossession of basic freedoms and the treatment of humans as a commodity. In all of its forms, modern slavery deprives people of their humanity, objectifying them in the most critical sense.

In order to track the ever-changing environment of modern slavery, the Walk Free Foundation has launched the Global Slavery Index 2013 to rank countries around the world based on three criteria: "estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population, a measure of child marriage, and a measure of human trafficking in and out of a country." This is the first index of its kind, with comprehensive data from around the globe based on intensive research with over a dozen experts consulted.

The Global Slavery Index 2013 has found that more than 29 million people around the world live in slavery. Countries with the worst offenses include high numbers of slave workers, sex slaves, and enslaved children. Asia contains the highest percentage of modern slaves, with the worst offending countries being India and Pakistan. Africa also maintains high percentages of modern slaves in countries like Mauritania, Ethiopia, and Senegal.

The Global Slavery Index provides an interactive map of countries around the world that can be searched based on country and region. It provides detailed breakdowns from region to region, including the estimated percentage of total enslavement for the location. It also ranks countries based on their ability to respond to modern slavery and their accurate reporting of human trafficking.

Despite this comprehensive data, the complexity of modern slavery reporting makes it difficult to get a truly accurate account of the number of exploited persons. Many modern slaves are not aware that the crimes committed against them could be categorized and such; and, like many such crimes where people are exploited, there are likely high numbers of crimes going underreported.

The Homeland Security Digital Library has many resources related to human trafficking that paint a clear picture of the slavery problems faced around the world.