Slave labor is widespread in China

29 million live as slaves

They toil in brick kilns in Pakistan, in India's textile factories or have to go on the street in Austria: An NGO has created a slavery index.

They are leaving their villages, looking for work in the big city and taking jobs that sound promising. But nothing comes of the quickly earned money with which the family is to be supported at home. They are kept short by employers and exploited, in the worst case even treated like serfs.

More than 29 million people worldwide are referred to as modern slaves. This emerges from a new report by the Australian foundation "Walk Free", which is committed to the abolition of modern slavery. This includes an index of 162 countries in which the organization has taken a close look at how many people are kept in slavery, how high the risk of enslavement is and the determination with which the respective governments act against it. The authors of the study mix all forms of exploitation that fall under the vague collective term “modern slavery”: child labor, forced marriage, human trafficking, debt bondage. The worst regions in the world - measured in absolute terms - are:

India: Around 14.7 million people are exploited as slaves in the densely populated country (1.2 billion inhabitants). All important branches of industry in the country are affected: They toil in construction, in textile factories, mines or work as domestic help. More than 90 percent of those affected come from the country itself, they come from the most remote, poorest regions of India. Around a third of the population is already considered extremely poor and has to get by on less than a dollar a day.

China: For around three million Chinese, slave labor is a reality. This also applies here, which applies to all countries listed in the top ten of this ranking: Men, women and children are affected, they are used in all branches of industry. Forced marriage, sexual exploitation and organized begging are other problem areas. The vast majority of Chinese slaves never leave the country.

• With Pakistan in third place is again an Asian country (around two million slaves). Debt bondage is particularly widespread in the Punjab region: people from the lowest classes sell themselves and their labor for a small loan. However, they usually never manage to work off their debts because new claims are constantly arising. They are therefore at the mercy of their employers - a common practice in around 5,000 brick kilns in the region. Child labor is also the order of the day there - a problem that even official Pakistan admits. Around 3.8 million children between the ages of nine and 14 have to earn money every day.

Nigeria: An estimated 740,000 Nigerians are affected - mostly women and children. They toil on plantations or in quarries in neighboring countries. Another problem that is also known from Vienna: Nigerian women are smuggled into Europe by human traffickers under false pretenses. Sole purpose: sexual exploitation. Once they have arrived in the destination countries, the women’s passports are confiscated and they end up in brothels or on the street.

More hotspots: Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh. 76 percent of all enslaved people come from the ten states mentioned.


Austria as a "target country"

Austria is also mentioned in the report: here - at least in an international comparison - everything seems to be in perfect order. Austria is classified as a pure “target country” - that is, a country into which people are dragged or smuggled - and then exploited.


Statistics. Around 29 million people worldwide live in slavery. In absolute terms, it affects most in India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh. 76 percent of all enslaved people come from these countries. Great Britain, Ireland and Iceland ranked in the best places.

("Die Presse", print edition, October 19, 2013)