05/31/2016, 11.17
ASIA
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Nearly 50 million modern slaves: 60% are in Asia

Five Asian countries have the highest percentages of slaves: North Korea, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, India and Qatar. The largest number of slaves in the absolute sense is held by India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan. Loan sharks also creating slavery. Slavery fueled by businesses in search of cheap labor; organized crime, which exploits human trafficking; the exploitation of man by man. The need for legislation, transparency in production chain, but also a change of mentality to combat consumerist frenzy.

Sydney (AsiaNews) – Globally there are at least 45.8 million modern slaves; two-thirds of these men, women and children are in the Asia-Pacific region. The Asian continent has the largest number of slaves: 26.6 million, or 58% of the total. These are the statistics provided by the Global Slavery Index 2016 released today by the Walk Free Foundation, a charity founded by Australian magnate Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicole.

North Korea in first place

The document is one of a kind and publishes estimates – verified through sociological surveys - of the number of people enslaved, the causes behind their predicament and government responses to such problems. Thanks to greater accuracy of studies and estimates, this year the statistics on the number of slaves in the world were more precise, 28% higher than in 2014.

Out of a list of 167 countries, the first places - in proportion to the number of slaves per head of population - are occupied by five Asian countries: North Korea, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, India and Qatar. In North Korea, the network of forced labor that feed into the national production system is increasingly evident. At the same time, thousands of North Korean women are sold as wives or as sex slaves to China and other neighboring countries. At least 4.37% of North Koreans are enslaved, leaving Pyongyang this bitter leadership. In Uzbekistan, the government continues to force its citizens to pick cotton every year.

In Qatar, out of about 2.3 million inhabitants, at least 30 thousand are slaves (1.36% of the population. The dominant form of slavery is in the construction industry, especially with regard to the building of infrastructure related to the football World Cup of 2022. The majority of these slaves-migrants, 99.4% male, comes from India, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

India and China in the lead

In absolute terms, the record for the largest number of slaves is held by India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan. India is at the top with about 18,350,000 people who are in a condition of slavery, followed by China with 3.39 million; Pakistan 2.13 million; Bangladesh with 1.53 million and Uzbekistan with 1.23 million. It must be said that many of these countries use slavery in the cheap labor system that produces consumer goods for the markets in Europe, Japan, North America and Australia.

An interesting fact is that for the Gobal Slavery Index, Hong Kong is worse than China. According to the Index, in fact, the area offers little protection to persons vulnerable to slavery (children, women, migrants, ...) and there is even a suspicion that "there are government policies and practices that facilitate slavery."

In China, however, while there are a huge number of slaves, the situation is positive in light of the government intervention to combat the problem.

It must be said that usury is among the causes of modern slavery.

According to scholars in the field, there are three reasons that fuel the slavery business, the search for lower production costs; organized crime that trafficking in slaves; the exploitation of man by man.

For Andrew Forrest, these three elements are fought with laws prohibiting slavery, but also asking the business community for greater transparency on the places and modes of production of the products they are selling. There is another important commitment, which is everyone's responsibility: Give up  a consumerism that is fueled by products obtained at the lowest price.

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