New Delhi: As many as 18.3 million Indians live in conditions listed as “modern slavery” in 2016, equivalent to the population of Netherlands, a rise of 4.1 million since 2014, according to a new global report. In other words, 5,616 Indians were enslaved every day over these two years.
On an average, 51 out of every 100 people are vulnerable to modern slavery – bonded labour, forced begging, forced marriage, domestic services and commercial sex work – in India, according to the Global Slavery Index 2016 compiled by the Walk Free Foundation, an advocacy based in Australia.
India has the fourth-highest proportion of people living under enslaved conditions, after North Korea, Uzbekistan and Cambodia. India was at fifth position in modern slavery in 2014, changing place with Qatar, the report said.
“The term modern slavery refers to situations where one person has taken away another person`s freedom – to control their body, their freedom to choose, to refuse certain work or to stop working – so that they can be exploited. Freedom is taken away by threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power and deception,” the Global Slavery Index 2016 report said.
The Asia-Pacific region has the highest number of people living under conditions of modern slavery; almost 46 per cent of human trafficking is reported from the region. While 83 per cent victims are male, around 17 percent are female.
Forced- and child-marriage are high in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Indonesia. A sex-ratio imbalance, resulting in absence of brides in India, has fuelled the trafficking of women and forced marriage.
Sexual slavery has risen in concert with economic prosperity in India, IndiaSpend reported in April 2016. The informal nature of the Indian economy has an effect on vulnerability, and accounts, in large part, for modern slavery, which is related to economic, gender and caste inequalities, as a May 2016 Economic Times report said.
In states hit by Maoist violence, such as Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha, boys and girls between the ages of six and 12 were recruited in children`s units, the ET report said.