Number of enslaved people worldwide reaches near 30 million

Published: Friday, Oct. 18 2013 5:45 p.m. MDT

A 2013 Global Slavery Index by the Walk Free Foundation indicates that an estimated 29.8 million people currently live in modern slavery worldwide.

The results reported that Mauritania was ranked first on the index as having the most slavery based on population.

According to the index, "This (ranking) reflects the high prevalence of slavery in Mauritania — it is estimated that there are between 140,000-160,000 people enslaved in Mauritania, a country with a population of just 3.8 million."

Researchers indicated in the study that this ranking represents a large number of child marriages and some human trafficking.

Following Mauritania in terms of prevalence of population is Haiti, Pakistan, India and Nepal.

The United States was ranked 134 in a list of 160 countries. The United Kingdom, Ireland and Iceland shared the rank for the lowest amount of slavery in terms of prevalence of population.

The results additionally indicated that India had the highest population of enslaved people, with a total estimated between 13.3 million and 14.7 million. China came in second with an estimation of nearly 3 million, followed by Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

According to the index, "Taken together, these countries account for 76% of the total estimate of 29.8 million in modern slavery."

Throughout the findings, researchers defined slavery as "slavery-like practices (such as debt bondage, forced marriage and sale or exploitation of children), human trafficking and forced labour, and other practices described in key international treaties, voluntarily ratified by nearly every country in the world," according to the index.

Researchers found that in a country like India, the majority of enslaved people found themselves victims of debt bondage and bonded labor.

And each country is unique in terms of the demographics of the victims.

"The China country study suggests that this includes the forced labour of men, women and children in many parts of the economy, including domestic servitude and forced begging, the sexual exploitation of women and children, and forced marriage," the index reported.

Many organizations, such as Not My Life, an awareness initiative and documentary film about the enslavement issue, are reaching out, promoting awareness for those who are held captive in the bonds of slavery — whatever form they may take.

Not My Life's awareness initiative, which began in January, aims at raising global awareness for the general populations as well as for legislators who can assist in policy changes to help those who are victimized.

"The Initiative’s core strategy is to create partnerships with, and empower anti-trafficking organizations around the world, working with them to develop community-based awareness programs," according to the website.

In the U.K., Oct. 18 has been deemed Anti-Slavery Day, with the intent of raising awareness and advocating methods for change.

Additionally, the National Human Trafficking Hotline, based in Washington, D.C., takes tips of potential human trafficking instances and is also a crisis line. The crisis line connects victims with more than 3,000 resources around the country.

The hotline is available at 1-888-373-7888 or by texting BeFree.

Emmilie Buchanan-Whitlock is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Contact her by email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com or on Twitter: emmiliewhitlock

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company