India home to highest number of enslaved people: Report

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New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) With an estimated 18.35 million men, women and children trapped in modern slavery through human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage or commercial sexual exploitation, India is home to the largest enslaved population in the world, reveal results of a global survey released on Tuesday.

Modern slavery exists in all 167 countries covered by the 2016 Global Slavery Index, a research report published by Walk Free Foundation, an initiative to end contemporary slavery and human trafficking founded by Australian philanthropists.

An estimated 45.8 million people are enslaved globally, revealed the report that suggests that 28 percent more people across the world are trapped in modern slavery than previously estimated.

India and four other countries – China (3.39 million), Pakistan (2.13 million), Bangladesh (1.53 million) and Uzbekistan (1.23 million) – together account for almost 58 percent of the world’s total enslaved population.

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Survey research for the report included over 42,000 interviews conducted in 53 languages across 25 countries, including 15 state-level surveys in India.

These representative surveys cover 44 per cent of the global population, the report said.

The Global Slavery Index also tracks government actions and responses to modern slavery. The research found that 124 countries have criminalised human trafficking in line with the UN Trafficking Protocol and 96 have developed national action plans to coordinate government response.

“Through our responsible use of power, strength of conviction, determination and collective will, we all can lead the world to end slavery,” Andrew Forrest, Chairman and Founder of Walk Free Foundation said in a statement.

While India remains the country with the highest number of enslaved people in absolute terms, it has made significant progress in introducing measures to tackle the problem.

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It has criminalised trafficking, child prostitution and forced marriage. The Indian government is massively reforming, consolidating and modernising its legislation against all forms of human trafficking which will also now include forced labour, the report said.

The Indian government is also expanding the number of anti-trafficking units across the country and taking steps to create a central national investigation agency, it added.



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