New Global Slavery Index launched: 10 million more people are living in modern slavery since the 2018 Index

May 25, 2023 12:21 pm, Published by , Leave your thoughts

The Global Slavery Index (GSI) 2023, produced by Walk Free provides a sobering portrayal of the extent of modern slavery worldwide. The report reveals that a record-high number of people, approximately 50 million individuals, were living in modern slavery on any given day in 2021. Of these, 28 million were trapped in forced labour, 22 million are affected by forced marriage, and 12 million are children. This is an increase of nearly 10 million more men, women, girls, and boys who have been forced to work or marry since 2016.

The GSI is the most comprehensive assessment of modern slavery, covering 160 countries, shedding a light on key aspects of the issue. It highlights significant risks associated with import products and supply chains into G20 countries. While many governments have made substantial legislative progress, there is a collective plea for stronger sanctions to enforce compliance and address breaches.

The report also provides estimated prevalence and number of people in modern slavery by country. Keeping in mind that any person in a situation of exploitation is one too many, below is a summary of the countries Stronger Together currently works in:

CountryEstimated prevalence of modern slavery (per 1,000 of population)Estimated number of people in modern slaveryPopulationOur programmes
Costa Rica3.216,0005,094,000Mexico and Costa Rica
Mexico6.6850,000128,933,000Mexico and Costa Rica
South Africa2.7158,00059,309,000South Africa
UK1.8122,00067,886,000Consumer Goods
Table showing prevalence and number of people in modern slavery by country.

Despite the apparent direness of the situation, efforts made by the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands in combating modern slavery have garnered praise for their strong responses. However, these countries heavily rely on goods and services produced through forced or exploitative labour. Therefore, the report recommends they need to evaluate whether their existing legislation serves as an effective deterrent or if tougher sanctions and greater recognition of good practices are required. 

For instance, in 2021 alone, the UK imported $26 billion worth of “at risk goods” associated with modern slavery, including cattle, sugarcane, timber, rice, cocoa, coffee, coal, electronics, palm oil, textiles, and solar panels. This underscores the urgent need for stronger measures to address forced labour within both public and private supply chains. 

The report emphasizes that modern slavery is interconnected with other global challenges such as climate change, conflict, poverty, gender inequality, and racial injustice. It urges world leaders to acknowledge these interconnections and seize the opportunity to make a collective impact. To fulfill the commitment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8.7, which aims to end modern slavery, forced labour, and human trafficking by 2030, leaders must act swiftly and urgently. 

Businesses have an important role to play in creating change as well. Stronger Together can support you to detect, deter and deal with risks of forced labour in your operations and supply chains. Start using our free practical guidance and resources today or contact us to discuss your needs.

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