Around 30 million people in the world are currently enslaved, with 10 countries accounting for 76 percent of all modern slavery, according to the newly released Global Slavery Index. "Slavery," as it's defined in the report, includes "slavery-like practices (such as debt bondage, forced marriage, and sale or exploitation of children), human trafficking and forced labour." The index, produced by the Walk Free Foundation, ranked 162 countries according to the percentage of enslaved people in a national population. Sourcing data from a decade's worth of government and NGO reports, as well as numerous secondary sources, researchers measured the prevalence of forced labor, child marriage, and human trafficking around the world, and calculated slavery risk factors as well as political interventions in each country.
Among the many factors that contribute to the prevalence of slavery -- extreme poverty, the absence of social safety nets, and war -- nations with the highest instances of the practice, such as India and Mauritania, tend to also have histories of colonialism as well as legacies of hereditary slavery that still persist today. Almost invariably, it is the women and children who are the most susceptible to abuse. What follows is a look at the 10 "worst" countries, as ranked by the Global Slavery Index.
Above a woman and a child walk away from a brick kiln ahead of an approaching monsoon storm in the outskirts of Lahore on July 13, 2012.
No. 1: Mauritania
Mauritania has the highest proportion of slaves in the world, accounting for between four and 20 percent of its population, or 160,000 people. Here, slave status has been passed down through the generations, and masters exercise complete ownership over their slaves and their slaves' descendants. The majority of slaves are women, who are responsible for both domestic charges and agricultural labor, and are subject to sexual assault.
Above, a slave girl cooks in the desert on June 15, 1997 near Chegar, Mauritania.
No. 2: Haiti
In Haiti, slaves comprise about 200,000 of the country's 10 million residents. The most common type of slavery is called restavek, a form of child labor in which disadvantaged children are forced to work as domestic helpers. Not all children in the restavek system are slaves, but many are exploited: Between 300,000 and 500,000 Haitian child laborers are denied food or water, or are subjected to physical and emotional abuse. Slavery in Haiti preceded the 2010 earthquake, but the index notes that the 357,785 people who remain in IDP camps are at "increased risk of sex trafficking and forced labor."
Above, seven-year-old Meloude Casseus, a former restavek, weeps while being soothed by a social worker at Meloude's family home on April 11, 2005 in a rural village near Les Cayes, Haiti.
No. 3: Pakistan
The Asian Development Bank estimates that 1.8 million people in Pakistan are bonded laborers -- people forced to work off debts owed to an employer. These debts are often passed down generationally, and workers can be trapped into labor that yeilds little or no pay at all. The Federal Bureau of Statistics estimates that Pakistan has 3.8 million child laborers between the ages of five and 14. Children and "low-caste" families are particularly vulnerable to becoming bonded laborers in Pakistan's brick-making industry.
Above, a child tries not to spill the water he is carrying at a brick-making area on the outskirts of Lahore on July 8, 2012.
No. 4: India
India has between 13 and 15 million slaves working in numerous industries, and the commercial sexual exploitation of Indian women, men, and transgender people is widespread. Child sex tourism is particularly rampant in religious pilgrimage centers and cities popular for domestic tourism. The 2013 U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report further estimated that 20 to 65 million Indian citizens are enslaved as a result of debt bondage.
In this photo, a male transsexual prostitute sells sex inside a brothel in Mumbai's infamous red light district Kamathipura on Feb. 3, 2011.
No. 5: Nepal
Nepal is both a source and destination country for modern slavery, which often takes the form of forced labor in brick kilns, as well as forced sex work. The index estimates that about 250,000 of Nepal's 27 million people are enslaved -- often by their employers. The International Labor Organization estimates that over 600,000 Nepali children are forced into child labor, and are subject to sexual exploitation, as well as to dangerous work such as mining and factory labor.
In the photo above, Durbati Nepali hides her face in shame as she recalls how she was forced to work as a prostitute after her husband was killed during Nepal's 10-year civil war.
No. 6: Moldova
In 2012, the International Organization for Migration found that Moldovan men, women, and children were disproportionately exploited in the Ukraine, where they worked in the sex industry, in construction, or in private homes, as well as in Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Kosovo. More than 32,000 Moldovan nationals are enslaved in different countries.
In this photo taken on Aug. 13, 2000, two women from Romania and Moldova who were rescued from a hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia comfort each other after being held captive and allegedly forced to provide sex services to businessmen and government officials.
No. 7: Benin
More than 76,000 people from Benin are forced to work in private homes, on cotton and cashew farms, in mining quarries, and as street vendors. UNICEF estimates most of the trafficked children in Congo originated in Benin, while the International Organization for Migration estimates that more than 40,000 children in the country are trafficked altogether.
In this photo, dozens of slave children ride in the back of a police vehicle on Sept. 26, 2003 after their apprehension at the Seme border as they were being sent to Benin.
No. 8: Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast is a source and destination country for enslaved women and children, and recent civil conflict has put more children at risk for forced labor. The country is also the world's leading producer of cocoa, and many children are subjected to the worst forms of servitude in this sector. A 2010 government report estimated that more than 30,000 children were forced laborers in rural areas, while another 600,000 to 800,000 children work on small family-owned farms.
Above, a little girl in a bus at the border between Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast in Februrary 2008. Hundreds of children are sent by their parents, too poor to feed them, across borders to learn the Quran. But Quranic masters sometimes send them to beg all day instead. If they do not come back with enough money, they are beaten up and are not allowed to eat. These trafficked children are called "talibes."
No. 9: Gambia
Gambia's most prevalent forms of slavery are forced begging, forced prostitution, child marriage, and domestic servitude. UNICEF estimates that more 60,000 Gambian children are vulnerable to slavery, especially orphans and street children. Forced begging victims are usually talibes, boys send to Quranic schools only to be exploited by teachers.
Above, a European man talks with a Gambian woman outside a massage parlor in Bakau on July 6, 2004.
No. 10: Gabon
Gabon is a destination country for enslaved children from West and Central Africa. Girls are often trafficked into domestic servitude or commercial sexual exploitation, while boys are trafficked for manual labor. Forced and child marriages are also common. As the Global Slavery Index details, in some cases, young people from neighboring countries come to Gabon voluntarily in search of economic opportunities, but end up being forced into servitude. One common form of slavery is a practice in which young girls are bought and sold without their consent to work as domestic servants to relatives or wealthy families. The report adds, "Gabon, being a wealthier state than its neighbouring countries, is largely a destination country for victims of this traditional practice."
Above a young girl who was arrested by the police with 11 other trafficked children at the border between Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.
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