PETALING JAYA: Almost 46 million across the world are trapped in modern slavery, with 129,000 people in Malaysia enslaved, a study shows.
According to the Global Slavery Index 2016, published by the Walk Free Foundation, there are 28% more people enslaved than previously estimated, with 45.8 million reported last year, compared with 35.8 million in 2014.
The report found that approximately 129,000 individuals, or 0.4% of Malaysia’s population are still trapped in modern slavery.
In the context of Southeast Asia, Malaysia has the fifth highest prevalence of slavery in terms of percentage, placing it behind Cambodia, Myanmar, Brunei and Thailand.
According to the report, there were cases of forced labour and exploitation within certain industries.
However, in the context of the absolute number of people trapped in modern slavery, Malaysia ranks 50th, far behind countries like Indonesia, with 736,100 people, and Myanmar, with 515,100 people.
The 2016 index once again found that the Asia Pacific region contained two-thirds of the people in slavery in the world, reflecting the fact that the region provides low-skilled labour for global supply chains producing food, garments and technology.
Globally, India remains the country with the highest absolute number of people trapped in slavery, with 18.4 million slaves among its population of 1.3 billion people.
India is followed by China (3.39 million), Pakistan (2.13 million), Bangladesh (1.53 million) and Uzbekistan (1.23 million), and together, these five countries account for almost 58% of the world’s enslaved, or 26.6 million people.
North Korea had the highest incidence of modern slavery with 4.37% of its population enslaved, making up one in every 20 people.
Andrew Forrest, the chairman and founder of the Walk Free Foundation, said that besides governments and civil society, it was businesses that played a key role in eradicating slavery.
“Leaders of the world’s major economies must bring the power of business to this issue, by requiring a focus on supply chain transparency,” he said in the report released on Tuesday.
The 2016 index was based on over 42,000 interviews by pollster Gallup in 25 countries in 53 languages.
Modern slavery existed in all 167 countries covered by the index with people being enslaved through human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage or commercial sexual exploitation.