According to the Global Slavery Index released on Thursday – and reported upon by the Los Angeles Times on Friday – approximately 30 million people are still slaves throughout the world – many of whom are in 38 of the 50 nations in Africa.
According to the Index, India has the highest number of slaves with nearly 14 million – though it is ranked fourth in terms of prevalence. In Africa, where slavery is extremely prevalent, Mauritania has some 150,000 people in the nation’s population of 3.8 million being held captive – many of them having inherited their enslaved conditions from their parents. Mauritania has the poorest record for slavery. The report says that the nation has 20 percent of its population enslaved. Mauritania has banned slavery and signed international conventions against slavery and child labor, but there is a tradition of slavery there that goes back generations and has the country deeply involved with the practice. Quite disturbingly, the slaves are reportedly unaware of their rights.
West Africa is where most of the slavery conditions are found. The countries with the condition of slavery are Benin, Gabon, Gambia, Ivory Coast, and Senegal.
The Index details that some-800,000 children work without pay in farming, fishing and other industries in Ivory Coast.
West Africa is historic in being the gateway for slaves seized in raiding expeditions before they were shipped to the “New World.” In present times, children are reportedly trafficked around the West Africa region and are forced into performing domestic service, farm labor, and – sometimes – sexual exploitation.
Walk Free Foundation – an anti-slavery organization – created the Index. The Index clarifies that – in present times – slavery is brought forth in various forms and by many names, such as forced labor, human trafficking, slavery or slavery-like practices. The slavery-like practices include forced-marriage, sale or exploitation of children, and debt bondage. The situations are referred to as slavery because victims of modern slavery have their freedoms denied and are controlled or exploited by others – for the thrill of domination, for profit, or for sex.
In Africa, particularly, the Index claims that children are sold into labor by their impoverished parents and end up being forced to beg in the streets. Girls, allegedly, are often married off young, denied education, and forced into sex slavery or into becoming cooks or porters at the hands of armed groups of persons.
The United States was ranked in the Index as number 134 in terms of prevalence of slavery – as it is asserted that nearly 60,000 persons are subjected to modern-day slavery.