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Countries That Still Have Slavery

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Contemporary Slavery: An Uncomfortable Reality

Even in the 21st century, the specter of slavery continues to haunt various corners of the globe, undermining human rights and societal progress. Despite the abolition of slavery in international law and the constitutions of most countries, it persists in hidden forms under the umbrella term 'modern slavery,' which encompasses forced labor, bonded labor, human trafficking, child labor, and forced marriage.

In the spotlight of our article are the countries where slavery is still significantly prevalent. In this context, the term 'slavery' is used to denote any situation in which individuals are de facto forced to work through coercion, mental or physical threat, deception, or 'debt bondage,' where they're forced to work to pay off a debt. Here, we will focus on this disquieting issue using data from credible sources, including the Global Slavery Index, a tool that provides a country-by-country estimate of the prevalence of modern slavery.

Key findings from the data include: 

  • As per the Global Slavery Index, India heads the list with approximately 18.4 million people living in conditions of modern slavery, primarily driven by bonded labor in sectors like construction, textile, and agriculture.
  • China follows, with an estimated 3.4 million people in modern slavery, spanning state-imposed forced labor, human trafficking, and forced marriage.
  • Pakistan and Bangladesh, neighbors to India, also report significant numbers of modern slaves at 2.1 million and 1.5 million, respectively, largely due to bonded labor and child exploitation.
  • Uzbekistan, with 1.2 million, is recognized for state-imposed forced labor in its cotton industry, whereas North Korea sees an estimated 1.1 million people living in conditions of modern slavery, predominantly in state-imposed forced labor.
  • Notably, these numbers represent reported cases and the actual figures could be considerably higher given the hidden nature of this crime. 

The persistence of slavery in our time is a pressing issue that necessitates global commitment and concerted efforts. Understanding the magnitude and the root causes of slavery in these and other nations is the first step towards devising effective strategies to eradicate this inhumane practice once and for all.

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