Nannette Ricaforte believes the Global Slavery Index can change the face of modern slavery.
Last month, the launching of the Global Slavery Index by the Walk Free Foundation revealed a staggering number of people (approximately 29.8 million) enslaved around the world. It’s the first comprehensive tool that catalogues modern slavery in 162 countries worldwide by the following measures:
- Estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population.
- Measure of child marriages.
- Measure of human trafficking in and out of a country.
The statistics released in the Global Slavery Index could be daunting depending on how you look at them. Top five countries showing the highest number of enslaved people are India (leading at 14.7 million), China, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.
Although Iceland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom rank lowest, it doesn’t mean slavery is nonexistent in these countries. The estimate of enslaved people in the United Kingdom is 4,200 – 4,600, which are still high numbers.
I want to believe the Walk Free Foundation will achieve their objective for this index. They hope to promote awareness and spark conversation with governments in order to help support each country’s efforts to combat modern slavery by properly evaluating modern slavery. The benefits of the report are evident for those who work to eradicate modern slavery.
Crystal Sprague, Executive Director of My Refuge House, an aftercare for young girls rescued from modern slavery, believes the report is advantageous to the cause.
“As far as the global slavery report goes, I think it’s helpful for a couple of reasons. It’s the first report of its kind that has done detailed empirical research about the numbers of victims of trafficking around the world. Those involved on the ground know trafficking is a major problem, but have no way of justifying the need for involvement without research to prove it, so this report will be helpful for any existing organization who is looking for continued funding and support to back up their initiatives. It’s also great because it gives us a collection of suggested intervention and implementation needs, so that current and prospective organizations can work together to meet those needs and not duplicate each other or do things that (although well meaning) may not actually be helpful.”
While the index provides sufficient arsenal in the battle against modern slavery, it does not encompass all forms of slavery, yet. According to Elisabeth Braw’s article, “…consumer activism won’t help the slaves whose toil never touches the global supply chain.” In this case, she’s referring to restaveks: children sent by their parents to work for a family as a domestic servant because they are unable to financially support them.
Braw states restaveks in Haiti are supposedly bound by a contract where employers send them to school while caring for them. However, this isn’t the case as most of the children are abused.
In Haitian society, employing a restavek is so deep-rooted a tradition that it’s considered more of a status symbol than owning a slave because impoverished parents willingly give away their child to a wealthy family. Thus, the government refuses to intervene in domestic matters.
Will the Global Slavery Index augment government involvement in their response to modern slavery, while shining a spotlight on domestic workers? I believe it’s a start, especially because global conversations have already spurred people to take action.