Controversies with Modern Metrics in the Global Slavery Index

  • The following report has been published: The worldwide slavery index, which was released last week, provides an overview of modern slavery.
  • 50 million people are enslaved today: According to the research, nearly 50 million people were living in “modern slavery” on any given day in 2021.
  • Existing slavery: Of the 50 million people impacted, 28 million are subjected to forced labour, while 22 million are subjected to forced marriages. Unbelievably, 12 million of those affected are youngsters.

Slavery in the Modern Era

  • Exploitation and incapacity to refuse or flee: “Modern slavery” refers to situations in which people are exploited and unable to refuse or flee owing to threats, violence, coercion, fraud, or abuses of authority.
  • Modern slavery encompasses a wide range of exploitation practises, including forced labour, forced marriage, debt bondage, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, slavery-like practises, forced or servile marriage, and the sale and exploitation of children.

What exactly is the Global Slavery Index?

  • Designed by Walk Free: Walk Free, a human rights organisation, produced the Index.
  • According to Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: The index is based on data from the International Labour Organization’s (ILO), Walk Free, and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Global Estimates of Modern Slavery.
  • The fifth edition: The fifth edition of the Global Slavery Index, released recently, is based on estimates from 2022.
  • Estimates by country: While the index’s initial estimations are regional, it uses representative polls to determine country-specific estimates.
  • Metrics: The index calculates the incidence per 1000 population to analyse the prevalence of modern slavery.

Findings Based on Country

  • The following ten countries have the highest prevalence of modern slavery: North Korea, Eritrea, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Tajikistan, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Afghanistan, and Kuwait.
  • Switzerland, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, Japan, and Finland have the lowest prevalence of modern slavery.
  • The top 10 countries with the most people in contemporary slavery are India, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, Bangladesh, and the United States.

The Index has been criticised

  • There is no internationally agreed-upon definition: One objection is that there is no internationally recognised definition of contemporary slavery, unlike human trafficking, which has one.
  • Calculation using the “risk score”: Risk factors frequently overlap with those used to designate countries as developed or developing, thus leading to biassed results.
  • Statistics discrepancies: For example, the index cites the United Kingdom as having the “strongest government response to modern slavery,” but also indicates a deterioration in the UK’s overall response and a probable breach of international law.

Challenges that emerging countries face

  • Employees in nations such as India: As illustrated by the hardships endured by workers during the COVID lockout and subsequent reverse migration, countries such as India face substantial challenges in terms of contemporary slavery.
  • Women’s Situation: Women experience considerable inequities, notably in economic independence, which contributes to difficulties associated to contemporary slavery.

Addressing the Issues

  • Countries, particularly the G20, hold the responsibility to address crises such as human trafficking and modern slavery, rather than stigmatising impoverished states and absolving wealthy nations of their responsibilities.
  • Importance of addressing worker precarity: It is crucial to address the precarious situations faced by workers, particularly in the post-pandemic era and during G20 presidencies.
  • Responsibilities of countries: Countries, especially G20 nations, bear the responsibility to combat issues like trafficking and modern slavery, rather than stigmatizing poorer nations and absolving richer nations of their obligations.

India’s anti-modern slavery measures

  • To fight contemporary slavery, India enacted laws such as the Bonded Labour Abolition Act of 1976.
  • However, implementation issues, corruption, legislative loopholes, and a lack of political will all make effective enforcement of these laws difficult.
  • Furthermore, there are gaps in the correct identification and enumeration of those caught up in contemporary slavery.

Way ahead

Strengthen laws and legislation to prevent modern slavery, integrate anti-slavery measures into climate change plans, enhance education, tighten regulations, prioritize rehabilitation and support, and hold G20 nations accountable for promoting collaboration.

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