Pakistan ranks third highest on the inaugural edition of the Global Slavery Index, compiled by Australia-based campaign Walk Free.
According to the report released worldwide on Thursday, Pakistan not only ranks third in terms of the prevalence of modern slavery but also has the third highest population of enslaved people in the world.
Only Mauritania and Haiti are ranked higher than Pakistan. India – which accounts for the largest number of people working as slaves – is ranked fourth just behind Pakistan.
Together with India, the South Asian rivals account for more than half the global population of modern slaves worldwide.
Some 2.1 million Pakistanis – roughly 1.2% of the country’s population – especially children and bonded labourers, are thought to be enslaved, according to the report. It states that although the Asian Development Bank estimates 1.8 million Pakistanis are in bonded labour, some non-governmental organisations place the figure much 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,” it states.
An estimated 13.9 million people in India – around 1.6% of the country’s total population – are slaves, according to the report. It states that although India has excellent anti-slavery laws, enforcement is ‘sporadic and inconsistent’.
“India also remains one of the few nations not to have ratified the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention,” it reads further.
Mauritania, meanwhile, comes out worst on the index with an estimated 4% of the population enslaved.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2013.