Modern Slavery: Asia’s reality check

Breaking News August 10, 2017 08:36

Asia News Network

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About 45.8 million people around the world are trapped in modern slavery. Half of them live in five Asian countries, according to Global Slavery Index.

The Global Slavery Index, from the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, defines slavery as "situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception"

More than 45 million people globally are living in modern slavery with Asia accounting for two thirds of the victims. Modern forms of slavery can include debt bondage, forced marriage, child slavery, commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour, where victims are made to work through violence and intimidation.

According to the index, which ranks 167 countries, half the population of modern slaves are in five countries — India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan.

India, however, has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of people in the world trapped in modern slavery with 18.35 million victims among its 1.3 billion population.

India is followed by China (3.38 million), Pakistan (2.13 million) and Bangladesh (1.53 million).

North Korea remains the only nation in Asia and the world that has not explicitly criminalised any form of modern slavery. The country has the highest per capita level of modern slavery, at 4.37 per cent of the population.

Among Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia has highest number of victims of modern slavery. 

In other Asian countries modern slavery is equally widespread. 

Myanmar has significant discrimination against minorities while Thailand is unable to protect migrant workers on fishing trawlers from starvation and murder, with trafficking and forced labour.

Large numbers of women and girls continued to migrate internally and internationally for jobs as domestic workers. While this offers an important economic opportunity, reports of abuse, exploitation and servitude persist, particularly in wealthy countries within the region where there was high demand for live-in help like Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

In Philippines, large numbers of women and girls continue to migrate for jobs as domestic workers.

Even in the world’s third largest economy, Japan human trafficking is on a rise. In neighbouring South Korea, slavery is thriving on rural islands off South Korea's rugged southwest coast.

In Malaysia and in Singapore as well, the governments have not been able to protect people from living in slave-like conditions.

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