India Tops Global Slavery Index With Over 14 Million People Enslaved

India slavery
Theresa Kerketa, 45 year old, poses for a picture at her residence on the outskirts of New Delhi November 2, 2012. Kerketa was working as a maid was rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), a charity which rescues victims of bonded labour. Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters

Over 14 million adults and children are trapped in modern slavery in India today, a recent report has revealed, the most of any country in the world.

The 2014 Global Slavery Index collected data on 167 countries, each of which was cited as having some percentage of slavery affecting its population. In total, a staggering 35.8 million people are reportedly enslaved worldwide.

The three countries with the highest levels of slavery when population is taken into account were Mauritania with 4%, just under 4% in Uzbekistan, and Haiti's 2.3%. Qatar, currently set to host the World Cup in 2022, was fourth with 1.4% of its population considered as living in slavery.

In sheer numbers, India's 14.3 million reveals the prevalence of slavery in the country, making up nearly 40% of the number of people in slavery worldwide. The next highest modern slave populations were found in China with 3.2 million and Pakistan with 2.1 million.

Europe was not omitted from the report, with the highest percentages of modern slavery being found in Moldova and Russia. Moldova was 15th when countries were ranking by percentage with 0.9 per cent, while Russia reached 0.7 percent, translating to roughly one million people enslaved in the country today.

Published earlier this month by Walk Free Foundation, a "global human rights organisation dedicated to ending modern slavery", the 2014 Global Slavery Index defines 'enslaved' and 'slavery' by including the presence of human trafficking, debt bondage, forced labour, forced or servile marriage and commercial sexual exploitation.

"There is an assumption that slavery is an issue from a bygone era. Or that it only exists in countries ravaged by war and poverty. These findings show that modern slavery exists in every country," Andrew Forrest, Chairman and Founder of Walk Free Foundation, said. "We are all responsible for the most appalling situations where modern slavery exists and the desperate misery it brings upon our fellow human beings. The first step in eradicating slavery is to measure it. And with that critical information, we must all come together – governments, businesses and civil society – to finally bring an end to the most severe form of exploitation"

This is the second annual report produced by the foundation and has seen numbers increase by 20% on last year. However, rather than an increase in the total number of enslaved people, the foundation puts the increase down to the amount of data that is becoming available for researchers, saying that the full extent of the problem is only now becoming apparent.

"The estimated prevalence of people in modern slavery has increased from 2013," the report says. "It is important to note that we are not asserting that there has been an increase in modern slavery around the world over the last year. We believe that the majority of this increase is due to the improved accuracy and precision of our measures, and that we are uncovering modern slavery where it was not found before."