Global Estimates of Modern Slavery : Daily Current Affairs

Date: 13/09/2022

Relevance: GS-2: Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Key Phrases: 2021 Global Estimate, Private economy, Forced marriage, Indian Slavery Act, 1843, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act of 1976, Article 23 of Indian Constitution Prohibition of Trafficking & Forced Labour, Social protection, Rehabilitation, Migrants, Vulnerability, Forced marriage, Trafficking, Legal identity.

Why in News?

  • Modern slavery has been exacerbated with Covid-19 pandemic, armed conflicts, climate change unemployment, education and poverty.

Key facts:

  • The 2021 Global Estimates for Modern Slavery Report indicates, at any given time, there are 50 million people in modern slavery, including 28 million in forced labour and 22 million in forced marriage.
  • It means there are 6.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world.
  • 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
  • Out of the 28 million people trapped in forced labour, 17.3 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 6.3 million persons in forced commercial sexual exploitation, and 3.9 million persons in forced labour imposed by state authorities.
  • Women and girls account for more than three quarters of those in forced commercial sexual exploitation, and for over one-third of those in forced labour in other sectors of the economy.

What is Modern Slavery?

  • The term modern slavery is not defined under any law.
  • It is a general term used to describe situations of exploitative nature in which the person cannot refuse or leave due to threats, violence, deception, and abuse of power.
  • Modern slavery includes exploitative acts such as forced labour and debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking.

Form of Modern Slavery:

  • Forced labour:
    • “A simple comparison with the 2016 global estimates indicates an increase of 2.7 million in the number people in forced labour between 2016 and 2021, which translates to a rise in the prevalence of forced labour from 3.4 to 3.5 per thousand people in the world.
    • The increase in the number of people in forced labour was driven entirely by forced labour in the private economy, both in forced commercial sexual exploitation and in forced labour in other sectors.
    • Disruptions to income because of the pandemic led to greater indebtedness among workers.
    • Amongst regions, Asia-Pacific is host to more than half of the global total (15.1 million), followed by Europe and Central Asia (4.1 million), Africa (3.8 million), the Americas (3.6 million), and the Arab States (0.9 million).
  • Forced marriage:
    • The number of people living in a forced marriages increased by 6.6 million between 2016 and 2021.
    • The Covid-19 pandemic has also exacerbated the underlying drivers of all forms of modern slavery, including forced marriage, which often is linked to economic hardship.
    • Nearly two-thirds of all forced marriages, an estimated 14.2 million people, are in Asia and the Pacific.
    • This is followed by 14.5 per cent in Africa (3.2 million) and 10.4 per cent in Europe and Central Asia (2.3 million).

Law related to slavery in India:

  • The Indian Slavery Act, 1843, also known as Act V of 1843 outlawed many economical transactions associated with slavery, is still applicable. The Act, banned slavery in India, made sale, and purchase of any person as a slave a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code.
  • Article 23 of Indian Constitution also mandates Prohibition of Trafficking & Forced Labour. It says, “Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.”
  • Bonded labour is defined in the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act of 1976 as a system of forced or partly forced labour in which a debtor gets an advance of cash or kind in return for his labour or service to the creditor.

Measures to address Modern Slavery:

  • Forced labour
    • Respect for the freedoms of workers to associate and to bargain collectively is indispensable to a world free from forced labour.
    • Extend social protection, including floors, to all workers and their families, to mitigate the socio-economic vulnerability, responsible for forced labour, and to provide workers with the basic income security to be able to say no to jobs that are abusive and to quit jobs that have become so.
    • Promote fair and ethical recruitment, to protect workers from abusive and fraudulent practices during the recruitment and placement process, including the charging of extortionate fees and related costs by unscrupulous recruitment agencies and labour intermediaries.
    • Ensure protection for people freed from forced labour, through immediate assistance, rehabilitation, and long-term sustainable solutions, so they can successfully recover and avoid re-victimization.
    • Ensure access to remedy for people freed from forced labour, to help recompense them for the consequences of their subjection to forced labour and to help in their recovery. Remedies include compensation for material damages (e.g., as medical costs, unpaid wages, legal fees, and loss of earnings and earning potential) or for moral damages (e.g., pain and emotional distress).
    • National policy and legal frameworks that promote respect for the rights of all migrants at all stages of the migration process, regardless of their migration status, are urgently needed.
    • Partnership and international cooperation: The challenge of forced labour is too big, and its myriad root causes too complex, for national governments or other stakeholders to address on their own.
  • Forced marriage
    • As women and girls are disproportionately affected, legislative and policy responses should have a gendered lens, including gender-sensitive laws, policies, programmes, and budgets, including gender-responsive social protection mechanisms.
    • Invest in building the agency of women and girls. Ensuring that women and girls have the opportunity and ability to complete school, earn a livelihood, and inherit assets plays a significant role in reducing vulnerability to forced marriage.
    • Protect the rights of those vulnerable to forced marriage and trafficking for forced marriage during times of crisis.
    • Address the vulnerability of migrants, particularly children. This includes improving capacity to identify the most vulnerable, as well as ensuring equal access to safe, dignified return and sustainable reintegration such as social protection and services, justice, psychosocial assistance, education, vocational training, employment opportunities, and decent work, regardless of their migration status.
    • Legal identity is a core enabler of sustainable development and safe and regular migration; access to legal identity registration procedures is particularly important for migrants at risk of forced marriage.

Way forward:

  • Reliable information and statistics on forced labour, forced marriage, and human trafficking are critical to promoting awareness and understanding of the problem, and to informing policy responses.
  • It is hoped that the findings presented in the report will encourage further research and data collection efforts focused on the national and local dimensions of all forms of modern slavery.

Sources: The Hindu BL

Mains Question:

Q. Discuss the reasons for exacerbation of Modern Slavery in India. Suggest measures to tackle this menace. [250 Words].