The ten countries with the most people in modern slavery (victims of human trafficking).
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Full interview with Kevin Bales:
Video researched, written, narrated, and directed by Bryce Plank
Visualization and editing by Robin West
"Enter the Maze" by Kevin MacLeod
"Phife for Life" by Otis McDonald
Slavery used to look like this, then it evolved into this, and today it looks like this.
In fact, there are an estimated 45.8 million people living in modern slavery across 167 different countries. They fall into three general categories: children held in the commercial sex trade; adults held in the commercial sex trade; and any other laborer made to work through force, fraud, or coercion.
The trafficking victim often looks like anybody else at work in a mine, on a farm, in a factory. Many are lured by promises of a steady job in another country, only to have their passports confiscated when they arrive. However, many slaves work in their native countries or even the cities where they were born.
According to The Global Slavery Index, these ten countries are home to the most modern slaves. They each suffer from income inequality, discrimination and classism, and entrenched corruption.
Number ten, Indonesia, produces about 35% of the world’s palm oil. The many small palm plantations present an immense challenge to inspectors trying to crack down on child labor. The country’s many islands are also home to tens of thousands of enslaved fisherman trafficked from Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia.
Number nine is the Democratic Republic of Congo. 20,000 of the DRC’s more than 870,000 slaves live in one of the most hellish landscapes on the planet, a vast ore mine in the east of the country.
The terrorist group Boko Haram gets overshadowed by ISIS, although it kills more people. When it comes to enslavement, one of its tactics is to give Nigerian entrepreneurs loans and then force them to join their group if they fail to repay fast enough.
Seventh is Russia. 55% of the slaves there work in construction. Foreigners are lured mainly from nearby Azerbaijan, the “stans,” Ukraine, and North Korea—thanks to this border on the far eastern edge of Russia.
The North Korean government is the world’s largest single slaveholder. Not only does it force more than one million of its people to toil in labor camps and other similarly hopeless situations, but it actually loans out some people to work in neighboring China and Russia, then pockets most of their wages. This exploitation generates about $2.3B each year for the Kim Jong-un regime.
The fifth most enslaved country, Uzbekistan, is the world’s sixth largest producer of cotton. It has benefited from forced labor, as the government puts more than 1 million people to work using threats of debt bondage, heavy fines, asset confiscation, and police intimidation.
Slave recruiters in Bangladesh promise poor families that their boys will be given a job, only to be enslaved on a faraway island and beaten to clean fish for up to 24 hours straight. Often, these fish are exported as cat food for our pets. Sometimes, the boys meet a gruesome death when they are eaten by tigers while searching for firewood.
Third is Pakistan, which has suffered through decades of conflict, terrorism, and displacement—especially along its northwestern border with Afghanistan. Its provinces have not raised the minimum age of marriage, which has allowed the widespread problem of forced and child weddings to continue.
Over 250 million Chinese have migrated within the country to find better opportunities, creating the ideal conditions for human trafficking. Each year, 58 million children are ‘left behind’ as their parents search of work in the China’s many booming cities. Every year, up to 70,000 children fall into forced begging, illegal adoption, and sex slavery.
And number one is India, which has - by far - the most victims of modern slavery. While economic growth has greatly reduced the percentage of its citizens living in poverty, the country’s sheer size still results in more than 270 million Indians living on less than $2/day. It’s unsurprising that inter-generational bonded labor, forced child labor, commercial sexual exploitation, forced begging, forced recruitment into nonstate armed groups, and forced marriage all exist in India. The government has already created many of the laws necessary to fight the epidemic, but the challenge is enforcing those laws and tracking improvements and areas of continued need.