This year, researchers surveyed residents of 15 states in India and asked them what it is like to live in conditions of contemporary slavery—the term used to describe human trafficking, forced labor, sexual exploitation, and other forms of illegal enslavement in the 21st century.
“I was physically and sexually assaulted when I was working in the field. I had also threat on my life and on my family,” said one unnamed person who was in bonded labor, a type of exploitation in which people are forced to work to repay debt, real or assumed. Another person, who was made a street beggar, said: “Though I am begging I am not paid a single amount. I have to deposit all to them. I am deprived of food and good sleep.”
These individuals are two of an estimated 18.4 million Indians who live in contemporary slavery, according to a new report from the Walk Free Foundation, an Australia-based organization. The group’s Global Slavery Index, released Tuesday, estimates a total of 45.8 million people are in some form of contemporary slavery in 167 countries. Nearly 60 percent of those live in just five nations: India, the country with the highest number of slaves, followed by China (3.4 million),