Slavery in the 21st Century

For a sobering but vital reminder that the scourge of slavery is still with us, check out the Global Slavery Index, the first comprehensive index of its kind that provides country-by-country estimates of the number of people who remain enslaved. It’s an initiative of the Walk Free Foundation, an activist group that tries to raise awareness and elicit action to help end modern slavery.

Here is some of the data gleaned from the report, which concludes that slavery remains a global problem nonetheless concentrated in a few key nations and regions.

Courtesy of Business Insider.


You can visit the interactive global map here to see the estimates for each individual country along with other relevant data.

It’s worth pointing out that in absolute terms, more people are enslaved today than ever before in human history (yes, the global population is much larger today than ever before, but the point is to highlight how slavery isn’t a dead concept or practice). Because it is mostly illegal or formally frowned upon in most parts of the world, modern slavery takes many forms and names.

  • Slavery broadly refers to the condition of treating another person as if they were property – something to be bought, sold, traded or even destroyed.
  • Forced labor is a related but not identical concept, referring to work taken without consent, by threats or coercion.
  • Human trafficking is another related concept, referring to the process through which people are brought — through deception, threats or coercion — into slavery, forced labor or other forms of severe exploitation.

The key unifying feature of all forms of modern slavery is that it involves one person depriving another person of their freedom: their freedom to change jobs, leave one workplace for another, control their own body, and so on.

We’ve come a long way in abolishing this once widely-accepted practice, but clearly we have a ways to go.





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