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Modern slavery. Image source: Wikipedia
  • Global Slavery Index states, about 45.8 million victims of modern slavery are present in the world and India contributes to 18.3 million of them
  • Modern Slavery generates about $150 billion in illegal businesses
  • The Indian Government is coming up with a new comprehensive bill to address the issue of modern slavery

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According to the Global Slavery Index, India has a staggering number of 18 million people trapped in modern forms of enslavement. Modern slavery, as defined by the Walk Free Foundation, is “when one person possesses or controls another person in such a way as to significantly deprive that person of their individual liberty, with the intention of exploiting that person through their use, profit, transfer or disposal.” 45.8 million people are boggled down under the curse of Modern Slavery, a hike of 28 percent as compared to two years ago.

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Walk Free Foundation, famous for coining the Global Slavery Index, was initiated by Australian philanthropists Andrew and Nicola Forrest, and now has partners to enhance the impact of its campaigns in many parts of the world, like Rainforest Action Network, Global March Against Child Labor and Human Rights Watch.


Mining in Africa. Image source: Wikipedia

Walk Free Foundation claims that modern slavery occurs in almost every country, under the misleading blankets of normalcy. Forced and bonded labor, sexual slavery and human trafficking, which come under the umbrella of human trafficking, have generated $150 worldwide.

“It’s where a person cannot leave their place of existence. Either their passports are taken, or there is a threat of violence against them or a member of their families, so they are stuck there. And, what’s worse, is they’re treated akin to a farm animal,” says Andrew Forrest, chairman of the Walk Free Foundation.

The most common form of bondage is financial debts. These modern day slaves owe massive sums of money to their masters, and due to the growing inflation, they are indebted for their entire lives. “I will be free only when I die,” says one laborer. The revenue that they create through their hard work is all pocketed by the slavers, and they’re only provided meager portions of meals. The fact that majority of these laborers are forced into bonded work by someone they already know or trust is truly heartbreaking.

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Child labour in India. Image source: Wikipedia

Child labor is often abound in these areas, and some are forced to beg on the streets with their limbs cut or eyes blinded to invite pity from pedestrians. They almost always never receive any of the money they earn, and are brainwashed with the most vivid forms of fear to prevent them to report to anyone. According to the Walk Free Foundation, “one in three detected victims” of modern slavery is a child.

Traces of modern slavery are ubiquitous in today’s world, and more importantly, in all sorts of industries. From the fishing industries in Thailand, where victims are forced to fish in small, uncomfortable boats for 20 hours a day, and receive next to nothing in return, all the way to human trafficked victims trapped in Cannabis factories underground and often don’t see the light of day.

The BBC reports that Shandra Woworuntu, an activist against human trafficking was forced into sexual slavery when she traveled to the USA from Indonesia in 2001. She eventually managed to flee her oppressors and helped the FBI locate the brothel where she was forced to work.

India’s figure of 18.3 million dwarfs China’s 3.39 million and Pakistan’s 2.13 million. Even though this news appears discouraging, Walk Free Foundation reports it has made tremendous progress in addressing the issue of modern slavery. “Its (India’s) Prime Minister, its cabinet ministers, its various states and its major Faith Leaders are making their intolerance for its continuance of this practice clear,” says Andrew Forrest. India’s Minister for Women & Children unveiled a draft of the country’s first-ever comprehensive anti-human trafficking law, which would treat survivors as victims in need of assistance and protection, rather than criminals, Thomson Reuters Foundation reported.

-by Saurabh Bodas

Saurabh is pursuing engineering and is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle: @saurabhbodas96

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