According to a report released on Wednesday~, the 20 richest nations in the world support forced labor and are home to more than half of the estimated 50 million people who live in “modern slavery.” According to a survey by the Walk Free foundation, a human rights organization that fights modern slavery, the biggest number of modern slaves are located in six of the Group of 20 countries, either as forced laborers or forced spouses. China comes in second with 5.8 million, followed by Russia with 1.9 million, Indonesia with 1.8 million, Turkey with 1.3 million, and the United States with 1.1 million. India comes in first with 11 million.
The majority of the nations with the lowest rates of contemporary slavery are also G20 members, including Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, Japan, and Finland, according to the research. “Yet, despite their high levels of economic development, gender equality, social welfare, political stability, as well as robust criminal justice systems, thousands of people continue to be forced to work or marry in these countries.”
In a report released in September, the U.N.’s International Labor Organization and International Organization for Migration and Walk Free predicted that by the end of 2021, 50 million people will be living in “modern slavery”—28 million of whom would be subject to forced labor and 22 million to forced marriage. Compared to the end of 2016, there has been a 10 million increase in just five years.
Walk Free Founding Director Grace Forrest said in a statement that “modern slavery permeates every aspect of our society.” It “is woven through our clothes, lights up our electronics, and seasons our food” — and “it is a mirror held to power, reflecting who in any given society has it and who does not.”
The report noted that this is particularly clear in global supply chains, where G20 countries buy $468 million worth of goods each year that are deemed to be “at risk” of being made with forced labor, including electronics, apparel, palm oil, solar panels, and textiles.
The 172-page research by the Australian organization Walk Free, which estimates the prevalence of slavery in 160 countries, is based on thousands of victim interviews gathered through nationally representative household surveys as well as analyses of each country’s susceptibility.
The United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the United States were mentioned in the report as having strong government actions to fight slavery, but the research also observed that these changes were less frequent and less significant than needed. “Most G20 governments are still not doing enough to ensure that modern slavery is not involved in the production of goods imported into their countries and within the supply chains of companies they do business with,” the report claimed. Walk Free is urging all governments to intensify their efforts to eradicate modern slavery on their soil and throughout their supply chains.
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