A hundreth of Pakistanis live in bonded labour: Global Slavery Index

Published: October 17, 2013
Some 2.1 million Pakistanis are thought to be enslaved, especially children and bonded labourers. DESIGN: MARIAM ESSA

Some 2.1 million Pakistanis are thought to be enslaved, especially children and bonded labourers. DESIGN: MARIAM ESSA

Some 30 million people worldwide are victims of sex trafficking, debt bondage, forced labour and other forms of modern slavery, a global index on slavery showed on Thursday.

Here are key facts on the 10 countries with the highest prevalence of slavery per head of population, according to the Global Slavery Index 2013 by Walk Free, an Australia-based rights group.

1. Mauritania

Some 151,000 people – or almost 4 percent of the population – are thought to be slaves, according to the index. Estimates by other groups put the prevalence rate at up to 20 percent.

Most common is chattel slavery, meaning that slave status is passed down through generations.

Slavery has been outlawed in Mauritania since 1961 and trafficking since 2003. Forced marriage and debt bondage are not criminalised.

2. Haiti

Haiti has around 209,000 slaves, fueled by high poverty, lack of access to social services and a system of child labour known as “restavek”, in which poor children from rural areas are sent to work with families in cities.

Rights groups say restavek children are often deprived of food, sleep and schooling and are physically, mentally and sexually abused.

A draft law on human trafficking is now before parliament that would make child trafficking a criminal offence.

3. Pakistan

Some 2.1 million Pakistanis are thought to be enslaved, especially children and bonded labourers.

The Asian Development Bank estimates that 1.8 million are in bonded labour, though some non-governmental organisations put the number far higher.

Many Pakistanis migrate to Gulf states, Iran, Turkey, South Africa and elsewhere in search of work, where they fall prey to unscrupulous labour agents who withhold passports and don’t pay wages.

4. India

With an estimated 13.9 million slaves, India is home to almost half the world’s slave population.

Almost all forms of slavery are prevalent, ranging from inter-generational bonded labour to sex trafficking, child labour and forced marriage.

Experts say India has excellent anti-slavery laws but enforcement is sporadic and inconsistent. It remains one of the few nations not to have ratified the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention.

5. Nepal

An estimated 259,000 Nepalis are enslaved, both inside the country and abroad.

About 90 percent of the 2.5 million Nepalis working abroad are undocumented, making them vulnerable to forced labour.

A crippled economy, endemic corruption and institutionalised ethnic and gender discrimination have created conditions for slavery to thrive since the end of Nepal’s decade-long civil war in 2006.

6. Moldova

With an estimated 33,000 slaves, Moldova is mainly a source country for modern slavery.

Moldovans in Ukraine, Russia, the United States, Germany, Belarus and elsewhere are exploited in the sex industry, construction, agriculture and domestic work.

Moldovans have been trafficked for purposes of organ removal – although such cases have been on the decline.

7. Benin

Benin has some 80,000 slaves, mainly women and children trafficked into the sex trade, domestic work or forced labour.

The International Organisation for Migration says more than 40,000 children are trafficking victims. Most work on cotton or cashew plantations or as servants in houses.

Vudusi or “shrine slavery” persists, in which young girls are forced to live in and care for shrines, where many are habitually sexually abused, rights groups say.

8. Ivory Coast

Around 156,000 people are subject to forced labour and sexual exploitation.

Many children are forced into work in mining, agriculture, fishing, construction, domestic work and as street vendors and shoe-shiners.

A 2010 government report estimated more than 30,000 children were forced labourers in rural areas, many in the cocoa sector. Ivory Coast produces 40 percent of the world’s cocoa.

9. Gambia

14,000 in Gambia are involved in slavery, mostly in domestic servitude and forced begging and prostitution, including child sex tourism.

Women, girls and boys are trafficked to Gambia from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and Benin for commercial sexual exploitation.

UNICEF estimates some 60,000 children in Gambia are vulnerable to modern slavery, including orphans and street children.

10. Gabon

With an estimated 13,000 slaves, Gabon is both a destination and transit country for victims of modern slavery.

Girls are mostly trafficked into domestic servitude or sex work while boys are trafficked for manual work.

Forced and child marriages are common, and some girls are coerced to work in restaurants or market stalls.

Correction: An earlier version of the article incorrectly noted in the headline that a tenth of Pakistanis were in bonded labour. The error is regretted.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • lol
    Oct 17, 2013 - 11:09AM

    rough calculation shows as percentage of population its same for india and pakistan…………..i donno what it means by beating anyway


  • lol
    Oct 17, 2013 - 11:14AM

    thanks to freaks from bangladesh and nepal……….and our inabiliy to send every child to school…


  • Asad Khan
    Oct 17, 2013 - 11:32AM

    It means one has to check its maths.

    11.6% for Pak (base 18 million), 13.6% for India (base 1.02 billion)

    The difference is of 2 percent points.

    Now, one can boast it cuz ‘India is bigger so she has bigger problem’ at the same time some Greeny can take a sling shot ‘look we are better’.

    It is difficult to accept the fact that this sub-Continent of ours have miserable social indicators despite having awesome pieces of military hardware.



  • Oct 17, 2013 - 12:21PM

    The headline is rather misleading. India is in terrible shape, in fact, as the report notes:

    “With an estimated 13.9 million slaves, India is home to almost half the world’s slave population.
    “Almost all forms of slavery are prevalent, ranging from inter-generational bonded labour to sex trafficking, child labour and forced marriage.”


  • Ihsan
    Oct 17, 2013 - 1:10PM

    This report is proof of Pakistanis being slaves of the Capitalists / Feudalistic Politicians ruling the country since its inception.


  • Uzair
    Oct 17, 2013 - 1:11PM

    @Asad Khan:
    you have to check your maths Pakistan’s total population is about 180 million not 18 million and 2.1 million is 1.6% of the total population


  • Stranger
    Oct 17, 2013 - 1:13PM

    Shame on the sub continent ( both sides ) to allow this . Why blame the government , its up to normal average citizens like us to prevent this .


  • lol
    Oct 17, 2013 - 1:36PM

    @Asad Khan: pakistan’s population is 180 million so as percentage of population as slaves is 1.167% india has 1200 million people so as percentage 1.158% so as percetage of population pak has more slaves………….
    congrats pak u beat india in nuber of slaves….. if thats what it meant …. in absolute numbers india, china and pak are in top 3 ….


  • Oct 17, 2013 - 2:23PM

    x number of people are “thought to be”? what kind of a study is it? the one you conduct sitting at home and choosing numbers by opening books at random pages?


  • sid
    Oct 17, 2013 - 2:39PM

    Getting rewarded for voting for congress……We Indians deserve this…….shameful……slow economic growth more slavery…….Recommend

  • BlackJack
    Oct 17, 2013 - 2:41PM

    I don’t know why either Indians or Pakistanis are celebrating a misleading title of a depressing article – either ways, it shows where we stand in the world in terms of delivering social justice to our people.


  • Naveen
    Oct 17, 2013 - 2:42PM

    I am used to such stats- Global Hunger Index, Human Development Index, Multi-dimensional Poverty Index and now this Global Slavery Index. It makes me sad that corporate media, instead of highlighting the exceptional misery that surrounds us, continues to act like an ostrich. Without exception, India continues to be right in the league of conflict ridden Sub-Saharan Africa in almost all such misery indices. Government and Upper class Society have spectacularly failed in resolving the deprivations of the country’s masses. Trivial matters of powerpolitics, bollywood and Cricket get far more attention in media & urban middle class than the pressing needs of the masses. And whenever a food security or rural employment scheme is proposed, the burgers starts jumping shoting fiscal profligacy. It is an extremely shameful situation.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Oct 17, 2013 - 3:32PM

    Both of us should be ashamed………..and ET more so for such a STUPID title.


  • Sparta
    Oct 17, 2013 - 3:54PM

    Are the writers on ET from India?Cause all you like to do is mock Pakistan in the headlines, and praise India, I don’t think an Indian news site would do the same for Pakistan.

    ET needs to stop it’s obsession with India, you’re making it seem like we’re all obsessed with our neighbors.


  • Naveen
    Oct 17, 2013 - 4:32PM

    Just FYI those ”freaks’ have lesser proportion of ‘slaves’ than us (Bangladesh is infact not even in the esteemed Top 10 ). This mess is essentially of our own incompetence and indifference.


  • wonderer
    Oct 17, 2013 - 4:39PM

    @Asad Khan:

    Sorry Sir, that is not correct. You need to check the proportional ranking in the original report here:


    I fully agree with the rest of your comment.


  • Wallis
    Oct 17, 2013 - 4:54PM

    It is a shame that these Pakistani news websites are posting links from Reuters which is not even giving accurate info. How can Pakistan beat India in Global Slavery Index with 2.1 Million people in slavery where as in India their are 13.9 million under slavery.

    Just check the report on Euro News, which says that after India ,2nd is China and then it is Pakistan.

    Just by having a complex of West, these Pakistani news websites don’t even check what info is being posted and just post the links from Reuter.


  • Balochistan
    Oct 17, 2013 - 4:54PM

    Lame story with distorted facts by Idiots of Express .

    Some 30 million people are enslaved worldwide, trafficked into brothels, forced into manual labour, victims of debt bondage or even born into servitude.

    Digest this: Almost half of them are in India.
    Here’s more: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Thirty-million-people-are-slaves-half-in-India-survey-says/articleshow/24286062.cms?utmsource=facebook.com&utmmedium=referral


  • Asad Khan
    Oct 17, 2013 - 5:27PM

    Kid do not waste time on pseudo comments , you need revision 5th Grade Mathematics. ASAP.

    Global Slavery Index guys are more smarter than me & you and they rank these countries not only by simple percentage fractions but by some statistical analysis which they gather from the different social indicators. (which off-course include mathematics).

    by the way “Percent” means “per 100”, think.

    In the article above, a (slaved guys) aka ‘number’ ratio expressed as a fraction of POPULATION (from each country)

    hope sense prevails,



  • Farhan
    Oct 17, 2013 - 6:10PM

    It’s strange how the title of this news has changed from being ‘Pak beats India in global slavery index’ to ‘a tenth of Pakistanis lived in bonded labour’ after half an hour sor so, since itfirst appeared on ET.


  • Utkarsh
    Oct 17, 2013 - 7:02PM

    The article says it all; the laws are there but the enforcement is sporadic.

    Secondly, @Asad Khan, you’re rather poor at calculations. The population for Pakistan is 180 million, not 18 million, and the population for India is 1.2 billion, not 1.02 billion.


  • GIndian
    Oct 17, 2013 - 7:18PM

    Indians and Pakistanis are the world’s most hyper-religious group of people and this is the main reason why both countries are living in primitive stone-age like condition. The funny part is religious people do not fear god while doing these kind of activities as if they are immune to the wrath of god. Whatever it is, shameless Indians should self destruct themselves reading this article and UN should publically shame and ostracize Indian government just like the way world treated apartheid South Africa.


  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Oct 17, 2013 - 9:16PM

    @lol: Don’t rejoice which country is down in the dumps, the fact is both of our countries should pay heed to this terrible human rights violations and I know for fact that all of four provinces specially Sindh got bonded labour. I think you should ask your legislators to ratify WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOUR CONVENTION, by luck Pakistan has ratified it. And let me remind you that in Malwa region and in district Madhya Prades in India, when the girls reaches the age of 12, they are bound to take up the life of prostitution because of religion and social duty. Mothers take their children of 12 years of age to the community center to have sex with men. And the shame is that Men are dependent on their daughters,sisters prostitution for living. You should check it out and make a noise to stop this kind of children’s exploitation by their male relatives in the name of religion and duty to the society. This news was all over US and in Yahoo news yesterday(Wednesday October 16,2013.


  • observer
    Oct 17, 2013 - 9:18PM

    A hundreth of Pakistanis live in bonded labour: Global Slavery Index

    My lips are sealed, but my heart is heavy.



  • Kafir
    Oct 18, 2013 - 11:31PM

    @Asad Khan
    The data from India is embarassing to the say the least. However,tThe problem with your calculation and this slavery index is comparing open societies such as India with undemocratic societies such as Pakistan. The data from Pakistan should be taken with a pinch of salt, it is very likely that the numbers from Pakistan under estimate the problem.


  • Oct 28, 2013 - 6:39AM

    The comments from Pakistan are amusing in the sense that they don’t say anything about the subject but object that they are better off than India. Let us assume that they are right and India is worse-off. What will Pakistan do then? Will they do anything to rescue the situation -even write a letter to their local paper-I doubt it.. Pakistanis may be a proud people but the fact is that it is impossible for Pakistan to keep-up-with-India, as of today.

    I am not justifying the situation in either country and both should be ashamed of themselves. But these kind of perspectives come from unhealthy patriotic and religious dogmas and are fertile breeding ground for anarchy. From anarchy to terrorism is not a big step.

    As I said, the comments are amusing but the overall picture is tragic. What a catastrophic waste !!Recommend

  • antanu
    Nov 9, 2013 - 4:21PM

    Both India and Pakistan have the same socio-economic problems…none of these nations can show show mirror to another.Do we still need more reasons to get rid of this HOLIER THAN THOU ATTITUDE and work collectively to solve the issue?


  • indianandproudtobeone
    Nov 9, 2013 - 5:54PM

    Hi Antanu,

    Nope- I don’t know about the Pakis, but for us-it is a quagmire from I doubt if we can come out of.
    We need someone special at the helm, not all these guard dogs of madam’e Sonia ( daughter in law of Feroz Gandhi) and not related in any way to a certain M.K.Gandhi.

    I don’t know how you can even think of ‘collectively’ work together. I’ll tell you go to you tube and choose any video—uploaded by a paki name. man..read the comments..u can feel the hate..they are reared up in an anti-indian propaganda since the day they are born. Just name one ally of Pakistan who has constantly been the country’s ally for the last 30-40 years.

    Yes-let us work to end these slavery but forget collectively man. That’s typical Manmohan Talk- the man is the PM without winning even a single election. Don’t think I am a Modi fan either. Lets see what he does first. Correction-It seems that Manmohan contested and won one election in his college life-the girl’s common room secretary !! lol


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