18.3 Million Indians Are ‘Modern Day Slaves’, Says Global Report

5,616 Indians turned slaves every day over 2 years. (Representational Image)
Highlights
  • Asia-Pacific has highest number of people living under enslaved conditions
  • 51 out of every 100 people are vulnerable to 'modern slavery'
  • A sex-ratio imbalance has fuelled trafficking of women, forced marriage

New Delhi: As many as 18.3 million Indians live in conditions listed as ‘modern slavery’ in 2016, a rise of 4.1 million since 2014, according to a new global report.

This means that 5,616 Indians were enslaved every day over these two years.

On an average, 51 out of every 100 people in India are vulnerable to modern slavery-bonded labour, forced begging, forced marriage, domestic services and commercial sex work, 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 per cent are female.

Forced and child-marriage are high in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Indonesia.

A sex-ratio imbalance 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.

Human trafficking cases up by 92 per cent in six years

About 5,500 cases were registered across India under existing human slavery laws in 2014, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.

Human trafficking rose 92 per cent over six years to 2014, IndiaSpend reported in August 2015.

Over the past five years, 23 per cent of human-trafficking cases led to a conviction. As many as 45,375 people were arrested and 10,134 persons were convicted.

Punishments range from fines to imprisonment. Over the past five years, Andhra Pradesh reported the most arrests (7,450), followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

What the government is trying to do

The government has drafted a National Policy for Domestic Workers that is currently awaiting Cabinet approval.
If enacted, the policy would ensure a minimum salary of Rs 9,000 to skilled domestic help, paid and maternity leaves, social security and the right to bargain collectively.

It will also include provisions against sexual harassment and bonded labour for domestic workers.

More than 20,000 police personnel have been trained in victim identification, implementation of the new legal framework and victim-centred investigations.

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