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The Global Slavery Index 2023 by the Walk Free Foundation

The Global Slavery Index 2023 by the Walk Free Foundation The Global Slavery Index, now in its fifth edition, offers a comprehensive assessment of modern slavery worldwide using data from 2022. The report provides a global perspective on the prevalence and impact of modern slavery, shedding light on this grave issue affecting millions of individuals around…

By Shubham Mittal

The Global Slavery Index 2023 by the Walk Free Foundation

The Global Slavery Index, now in its fifth edition, offers a comprehensive assessment of modern slavery worldwide using data from 2022. The report provides a global perspective on the prevalence and impact of modern slavery, shedding light on this grave issue affecting millions of individuals around the world.

The Global Slavery Index 2023

The ‘Global Slavery Index 2023’, published by the Walk Free Foundation, brings attention to the concerning escalation of modern slavery on a global scale. The report reveals a shocking 25% increase in the number of individuals living in these exploitative conditions, reaching a staggering 50 million people over the past five years.

  • Highlighting the impact of trade operations and global supply chains, the report emphasizes the significant contribution of G20 nations to this crisis.
  • Among these influential countries, India, China, Russia, Indonesia, Turkey, and the United States stand out as having the highest number of forced laborers.

These findings shed light on the urgent need for collective efforts to combat modern slavery and address the systemic factors that perpetuate this egregious violation of human rights.

Assessment Methodology

  • The Global Slavery Index is developed by Walk Free, a respected human rights organization, and draws upon the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, a collaborative effort by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Walk Free, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to illustrate how “modern slavery is hidden in plain sight”.
  • A nation’s vulnerability to modern slavery can be influenced by various factors, including political instability, inequality, inadequate access to basic needs, deficiencies in criminal justice mechanisms, internal conflicts, and forced displacement.

Key Highlights of the Global Slavery Index 2023

According to the Global Slavery Index 2023, the number of individuals living in modern slavery has reached a staggering 50 million worldwide, marking a significant increase of 10 million people since 2016. This distressing statistic implies that approximately one in every 160 individuals is a victim of modern slavery.

  • The index assesses and ranks 160 countries based on the estimated prevalence of modern slavery per 1,000 people.
    • Notably, countries such as North Korea (104.6), Eritrea (90.3), and Mauritania (32.0) have the highest prevalence, where modern slavery is pervasive and often supported by the state.
    • On the other end of the spectrum, countries with the lowest prevalence include Switzerland (0.5), Norway (0.5), and Germany (0.6). These nations demonstrate strong governance and effective responses to combat modern slavery, reflecting their commitment to eradicating this grave violation of human rights.
  • Among the regions, Asia and the Pacific bear the highest burden of modern slavery, with an estimated 29.3 million people living in these conditions. This alarming figure highlights the urgent need for action to address this issue in the region.
    • Within Asia, India stands out with a prevalence rate of 8, indicating that approximately 8 out of every 1,000 individuals in the country are estimated to be living in modern slavery. This underscores the significant challenge that India faces in combating and eradicating modern slavery within its borders.
  • India is home to the most people living in modern slavery, with an estimated 11 million people affected.
  • China is the second most affected country, with an estimated 4.8 million people living in modern slavery.

Contributing Factors

  • According to the Global Slavery Index, several factors have led to an increase in modern slavery. Climate change, armed conflict, poor governance, and health emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic are identified as major contributors to this troubling trend.
  • The report also highlights the significant role played by G20 nations in modern slavery. These countries are responsible for more than half of all people living in such conditions.
    • One of the main reasons for this is the importation of goods worth $468 billion from countries that lack strong worker protection measures. This practice further deteriorates the situation, leading to more instances of forced labor.

Role of Global Supply Chains

  • The Global Slavery Index sheds light on the intricate and hidden nature of global supply chains, which encompass various stages like sourcing materials, manufacturing, packaging, and transportation. Within these supply chains, forced labor is deeply intertwined.
  • Of particular concern are high-risk products such as electronics, textiles, palm oil, and solar panels, which have been associated with forced labor, human trafficking, and child labor. The report emphasizes that G20 countries, as a collective, import significant amounts of textiles and apparel goods that are at risk of being produced through forced labor.

Textile Industry

  • The Global Slavery Index emphasizes the textile industry as a notable contributor to forced labor, shedding light on the concerning conditions that prevail within it. It highlights instances of forced and unpaid work, risks to health and safety, inadequate wages, absence of benefits, and the practice of debt bondage.
  • One specific example mentioned in the report is the Sumangali scheme in Tamil Nadu, which illustrates exploitative conditions prevalent in spinning mills. This scheme primarily affects women and girls, who find themselves trapped in these mills under exploitative circumstances.

International Efforts and Challenges

  • Although a goal has been set to eliminate modern slavery, forced labor, and human trafficking by 2030, the report brings attention to the alarming rise in the number of individuals living in modern slavery and the insufficient progress in government initiatives to combat this issue.
  • The report identifies several compounding crises that have contributed to this increase of 10 million people in modern slavery.
    • These crises include armed conflicts, environmental degradation, threats to democratic systems, the erosion of women’s rights on a global scale, and the far-reaching economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Global Slavery Index puts forth several key recommendations aimed at combating modern slavery and its associated practices. These recommendations encompass a range of areas involving governments, businesses, and society as a whole.

  • Firstly, the report suggests the implementation of stronger measures and legislation to prevent governments and businesses from sourcing goods and services that are linked to modern slavery. This includes adopting robust policies and regulations that promote responsible sourcing practices and hold accountable those who engage in or benefit from modern slavery.
  • Additionally, the report emphasizes the importance of integrating anti-slavery measures into climate change sustainability plans. Recognizing the interconnectedness of these issues, it calls for efforts to address the vulnerabilities and exploitation that arise from environmental degradation and climate-related crises.
  • The Global Slavery Index also underscores the significance of education as a means to prevent and combat modern slavery. It recommends providing access to quality education for children, as education serves as a protective factor against exploitation and equips individuals with knowledge and skills to recognize and resist coercion.
  • Furthermore, the report highlights the need to tighten regulations surrounding child marriage, as child marriage often leads to a heightened risk of exploitation and slavery-like practices. Strengthening laws and enforcement mechanisms to prevent child marriage and promoting awareness about its detrimental consequences are essential in addressing this issue.
  • Lastly, the report emphasizes the importance of transparency in value chains. It urges businesses to take proactive steps in mapping and disclosing their supply chains, ensuring transparency and accountability throughout the production process. By promoting supply chain transparency, businesses can identify and address the potential risks of modern slavery and engage in responsible business practices.

Implementing these recommendations can contribute to the prevention and eradication of modern slavery by creating a more hostile environment for exploitation, empowering individuals through education, protecting vulnerable populations, and promoting responsible business conduct.

The Global Slavery Index – FAQs

What is Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery is a term that encompasses a range of exploitative practices, such as forced labor, forced marriage, debt bondage, commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, slavery-like practices, and the sale and exploitation of children. These forms of exploitation have profound and devastating effects on individuals, communities, and societies at large.

Which Article of the Indian Constitution prohibits slavery?

Fundamental Right under Article 23 of the Indian Constitution states that:
“No person shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the traffic of human beings are prohibited.”
This article prohibits all forms of slavery, including forced labor, bonded labor, and child labor. It also prohibits the trafficking of human beings for the purpose of forced labor or sexual exploitation.

When was the first Global Slavery Index released?

The first Global Slavery Index was released in 2013 by the Walk Free Foundation. The index estimates the number of people living in modern slavery worldwide. The 2023 Global Slavery Index found that 50 million people were living in modern slavery, an increase of 10 million people since 2016.


  • Shubham Mittal

    Shubham Mittal is a renowned current affairs writer and expert in government exam preparation, inspiring readers with insightful articles and guiding aspirants with his expertise.

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