Slavery is a system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing individuals to own, buy, and sell other individuals as a form of property. Slaves are unable to withdraw from this arrangement and work with little to no pay.
Slavery was abolished in the United States in 1865 following the Civil War. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
Modern slavery, however, still exists around the world and continues to be a serious problem, particularly because modern slavery is not easy to recognize. According to the U.S. Department of State, modern slavery is used as an umbrella term for “the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion.” Modern slavery is often known as human trafficking.
There are 167 countries that still have slavery, affecting about 46 million people. Although governments have taken steps and raised awareness about modern slavery, it is difficult to detect and recognize in many cases. It’s important to know the signs of slavery so that authorities and organizations can be alerted.
While over a hundred countries still have slavery, six countries have significantly high numbers:
- India (18.4 million)
- China (3.4 million)
- Pakistan (2.1 million)
- Bangladesh (1.5 million)
- Uzbekistan (1.2 million)
- North Korea (1.1 million)
India has the highest number of slaves in the world at 18.4 million slaves. This number is higher than the population of the Netherlands and is approximately 1.4% of India’s entire population. All forms of modern slavery exist in India, including forced child labor, forced marriage, commercial sexual exploitation, bonded labor, and forced recruitment into non-state armed groups.
China has the second-highest number of slaves at 3.4 million, which is less than a quarter of India’s.
Other countries that have significantly high slave populations are Russia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Egypt, Myanmar, Iran, Turkey, and Sudan.
Below is a table the six countries with the highest slave populations in the world