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A Haitian Restavek. (Jean R. Cadet Restavek Organization image)
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 18, 2013: With all the talk about reparation, who says slavery is over?
According to the Walk Free Foundation, (WFF), there are over a million modern day slaves today in the Americas alone – Latin America and the Caribbean.

The WFF this week released its Inaugural Global Slavery Index of 162 countries, based on a combination of their estimated prevalence of modern slavery, levels of child marriage, and levels of human trafficking into and out of the country. A number one ranking indicates a more severely concentrated modern slavery situation while a higher ranking shows the least.

Topping the ranks and in the top two globally was Haiti, with some 220,000 slaves according to the WFF, the highest prevalence in the Americas.

This ranking was based on a combination of the estimated prevalence of modern day slavery, levels of child slavery including those in the restavek system, child marriages, and levels of human trafficking into and out of the country.

“Street children, many of whom are runaway restaveks, can end up being trafficked into forced begging and commercial sexual exploitation,” WFF researchers said.

Also identified as a form of slavery were the adults who have been in forced labor in agriculture, construction and sexual exploitation within Haiti and in the Dominican Republic, other Caribbean countries, the United States and South America.

Though most victims of modern slavery in Haiti are Haitian nationals, there have been some reports of women being trafficked into Haiti from the Dominican Republic for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

The International Organization for Migration, (IOM) has reported that up to 200 Dominican women are trafficked into Haiti every year, most of which end up in commercial sexual exploitation in affluent areas and at major sea-ports.

Men and women are trafficked from Haiti into other countries, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil, as well as North American countries for the purpose of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Haiti is also a transit country for victims of trafficking en route to the United States.

In addition, the estimated 357,785 people who still remain in camps as of March 2013, especially women and children “were at an increased risk of sex trafficking and forced labor,” the WFF said.


Other countries in the Americas ranked lower down on the list with the countries of the Caribbean basin showing a lesser level of risk of enslavement and other violations of rights than most Latin American countries.

Peru was at 65th with 86,000 while Suriname was ranked at 68 with 1,600 modern day slaves.

Guyana came in at 77 with 2,400.

Uruguay was at 72nd on the list with 10,000; Columbia at 73 with 140,000; Paraguay at 74 with 21,000 and Venezuela at 74 with 84,000.

Bolivia with 31,000 came in at 76th. The Dominican Republic was at 79 with 24,000 while Chile was ranked at 89 with 40,000.
Brazil was ranked at 94 with 220,000 while El Salvador and Guatemala were at 95th and 101, respectively with 11,000 and 14,000 slaves each.

Mexico with 110,000 modern day slaves was at 107. “Mexico is a critical transit country for South and Central Americans seeking to enter the United States, one result of this is a highly developed criminal economy that preys on economic migrants, trafficking and enslaving them,” said the report.

Nicaragua was at 108th on the rankings with 6,100.

Honduras had 7,900 at 110th on the index while Argentina was ranked 122 with 37,000 slaves. Jamaica came in at 124 with 2,500.

Trinidad & Tobago was ranked at 133 and Barbados came in last for the Caribbean rankings with a mere 46. However, Panama, with 548 ranked even lower at 145 while Costa Rica was at 146 with 679.

Cuba was the last on the Americas list at 149 with 2,116.

Globally, over 29 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery today, WFF said in its index.
Mauritania is ranked first on the Index, with the highest estimated proportion of its population enslaved of any country in the world. The West African country, with its deeply entrenched system of hereditary slavery, is thought to have an estimated 150,000 slaves in a population of only 3.8 million.

Pakistan is at number three on the ranks with an estimate of over two million in modern slavery.

India has the highest number of people enslaved in absolute terms, with approximately 14 million people in modern slavery – almost half of the total number worldwide. China follows, with an estimated 2, 900 000 enslaved.

Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh make up the top ten by absolute numbers. Taken together, these countries account for more than 22 million of the 29.8 million people enslaved.
While Asia and Africa are home to the vast majority of modern slaves, no continent is free from modern slavery. Globally, Iceland, Ireland and the UK are tied with the lowest rankings in the Index. However, it is estimated that there are as many as four thousand people enslaved in the UK and more could be done to help them and prevent others suffering their fate.

The Walk Free Foundation is a global organization with a mission to end modern slavery in our generation by mobilizing a global activist movement, generating the highest quality research, enlisting business and raising unprecedented levels of capital to drive change in those countries and industries bearing the greatest responsibility for modern slavery today.
“Most governments don’t dig deeply into slavery for a lot of bad reasons. There are exceptions, but many governments don’t want to know about people who can’t vote, who are hidden away, and are likely to be illegal anyway. The laws are in place, but the tools and resources and the political will are lacking. And since hidden slaves can’t be counted it is easy to pretend they don’t exist. The Index aims to change that,” said Professor Kevin Bales, the lead researcher on the Index.
“It would be comforting to think that slavery is a relic of history, but it remains a scar on humanity on every continent. This is the first slavery index but it can already shape national and global efforts to root out modern slavery across the world. We now know that just ten countries are home to over three quarters of those trapped in modern slavery. These nations must be the focus of global efforts,” said Nick Grono, CEO of Walk Free Foundation.

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