An Australian study shows more than 45 million people are currently trapped in modern slavery across the world, up by 28 percent compared to similar estimates two years ago.
The figures were released Tuesday in the 2016 Global Slavery Index, a research report by Australia’s Walk Free Foundation, which examined practices such as forced labor, human trafficking, child exploitation and forced marriage.
The findings, which were based on interviews with 25,000 people in different world countries, showed that modern slavery is rampant in Asia-Pacific, where two-thirds of a total of 45.8 slaves live.
The index found that India has the highest number of slaves, with 18.35 million trapped in modern slavery, followed by China with 3.39 million slaves. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan also come behind China in the study.
Meanwhile, North Korea has also the highest incidence, with 4.37 percent of its population held as slaves.
Commenting on the study, Australian billionaire mining magnate and philanthropist Andrew Forrest, the Walk Free Foundation founder, urged the adoption of more robust measures to end global slavery.
“We call on governments of the top 10 economies of the world to enact laws, at least as strong as the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, with a budget and capability to ensure organizations are held to account for modern slavery in their supply chains, and to empower independent oversight,” Forrest said.
“I believe in the critical role of leaders in government, business and civil society. Through our responsible use of power, strength of conviction, determination and collective will, we all can lead the world to end slavery,” he added.
The victims of modern slavery are usually subject to exploitation, a situation they cannot leave due to threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception.
They may be caught in debt bondage and brothels. In other occasions, the victims may also be forced to work as domestic servants against their will.