By Max Fisher in Washing in Washington Post
( Shared By Tahir Mahmood)
Share of each country’s population that is enslaved. Click to enlarge. Data source: Walk Free Global Slavery Index. (Max Fisher/The Washington Post)
We think of slavery as a practice of the past, an image from Roman colonies or 18th-century American plantations, but the practice of enslaving human beings as property still exists. There are 29.8 million people living as slaves right now, according to a comprehensive new report issued by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation.
This is not some softened, by-modern-standards definition of slavery. These 30 million people are living as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers, child brides in forced marriages and, in all ways that matter, as pieces of property, chattel in the servitude of absolute ownership. Walk Free investigated 162 countries and found slaves in every single one. But the practice is far worse in some countries than others.
The country where you are most likely to be enslaved is Mauritania. Although this vast West African nation has tried three times to outlaw slavery within its borders, it remains so common that it is nearly normal. The report estimates that four percent of Mauritania is enslaved – one out of every 25 people. (The aid group SOS Slavery, using a broader definition of slavery, estimated several years ago that as many as 20 percent of Mauritanians might be enslaved.)
The map at the top of this page shows almost every country in the world colored according to the share of its population that is enslaved. The rate of slavery is also alarmingly high in Haiti, in Pakistan and in India, the world’s second-most populous country. In all three, more than 1 percent of the population is estimated to live in slavery.
A few trends are immediately clear from the map up top. First, rich, developed countries tend to have by far the lowest rates of slavery. The report says that effective government policies, rule of law, political stability and development levels all make slavery less likely. The vulnerable are less vulnerable, those who would exploit them face higher penalties and greater risk of getting caught. A war, natural disaster or state collapse is less likely to force helpless children or adults into bondage. Another crucial factor in preventing slavery is discrimination. When society treats women, ethnic groups or religious minorities as less valuable or less worthy of protection, they are more likely to become slaves.
Then there are the worst-affected regions. Sub-Saharan Africa is a swath of red, with many countries having roughly 0.7 percent of the population enslaved — or one in every 140 people. The legacies of the transatlantic slave trade and European colonialism are still playing out in the region; ethnic divisions and systems of economic exploitation engineered there during the colonial era are still, to some extent, in place. Slavery is also driven by extreme poverty, high levels of corruption and toleration of child “marriages” of young girls to adult men who pay their parents a “dowry.”
Two other bright red regions are Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. Both are blighted particularly by sex trafficking, a practice that bears little resemblance to popular Western conceptions of prostitution. Women and men are coerced into participating, often starting at a very young age, and are completely reliant on their traffickers for not just their daily survival but basic life choices; they have no say in where they go or what they do and are physically prevented from leaving. International sex traffickers have long targeted these two regions, whose women and men are prized for their skin tones and appearance by Western patrons.
Here, to give you a different perspective of slavery’s scope, is a map of the world showing the number of slaves living in each country: