One would have thought that slavery was abolished centuries ago, but it still exists in parts of the world and is as great a menace as ever.
December 2 marks the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery to raise awareness and trigger global action against child labor, sex trafficking, debt bondage, forced labor and other forms of modern slavery.
Around 30 million women, men and children are trapped in slavery all over the world, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries, according to the Global Slavery Index 2013 by Walk Free, an Australia-based rights group.
The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement on Monday:
“It is vital that we give special consideration to ending modern-day slavery and servitude which affects the poorest, most socially excluded groups – including migrants, women, discriminated ethnic groups, minorities and indigenous peoples."
In an attempt to help raise awareness about this global crime, internet giant Google and entertainment network MTV collaborated to initiate “Freedom Pledge,” an international movement to end slavery. For more information on the campaign you can watch the video below.
Here is a list of top 10 countries based on number of people enslaved as a percentage of population.
With an estimated 13,000 slaves, Gabon or Gabonese Republic on the west coast of Central Africa ranks tenth on the list where girls are mostly forced into domestic servitude or flesh trade, while boys are trafficked for manual work. Forced and child marriages are also common.
Around 14,000 people in Gambia are involved in slavery, mostly in domestic work and forced begging and prostitution, including child sex tourism.
According to the Global Slavery Survey, women, girls and boys are trafficked to Gambia from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and Benin for commercial sexual exploitation.
UNICEF estimates some 60,000 children in Gambia are vulnerable to modern slavery, including orphans and street children.
08. Ivory Coast:
Here, around 156,000 people are subject to forced labor and sexual exploitation including children who are forced into work in mining, agriculture, fishing, construction, domestic work and as street vendors and shoe-shiners. A 2010 government report estimated more than 30,000 children were forced laborers in rural areas, many in the cocoa sector in Ivory Coast which produces 40 percent of the world's cocoa.
West African country Benin ranks seventh with some 80,000 slaves. Mainly, women and children are trafficked into the flesh trade, domestic or forced labor. The International Organization for Migration says more than 40,000 children are trafficking victims. Most work on cotton or cashew plantations or as servants in houses.
Vudusi or "shrine slavery" persists, in which young girls are forced to live in and care for shrines, where many are habitually sexually abused, rights groups say.
With an estimated 33,000 slaves, Moldova is mainly a source country for modern slavery. Moldovans in Ukraine, Russia, the United States, Germany, Belarus and elsewhere are exploited by the sex industry and are used for construction, agriculture or domestic work.
Moldovans have been trafficked for purposes of organ removal - although such cases have been on the decline.
An estimated 259,000 Nepalese people are enslaved, both inside the country and abroad. About 90 percent of the 2.5 million Nepalis working abroad are undocumented, making them vulnerable to forced labor. A crippled economy, endemic corruption and institutionalized ethnic and gender discrimination have created conditions for slavery to thrive since the end of Nepal's decade-long civil war in 2006.
With an estimated 13.9 million slaves, India is home to almost half the world's slave population. Almost all forms of slavery are prevalent, ranging from inter-generational bonded labor to sex trafficking, child labor and forced marriage.
Experts say India has excellent anti-slavery laws but enforcement is sporadic and inconsistent. It remains one of the few nations not to have ratified the Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention.
Some 2.1 million Pakistanis are thought to be enslaved, especially children and bonded laborers. The Asian Development Bank estimates that 1.8 million are in bonded labor, though some non-governmental organizations put the number far higher.
Haiti has around 209,000 slaves, fueled by high poverty, lack of access to social services and a system of child labor known as "restavek", in which poor children from rural areas are sent to work with families in cities.
Rights groups say restavek children are often deprived of food, sleep and schooling and are physically, mentally and sexually abused. A draft law on human trafficking is now before parliament that would make child trafficking a criminal offence.
The country where slavery is the most prevalent in the world is Mauritania, an Islamic republic in West Africa. Some 151,000 people - or almost four percent of the population - are thought to be slaves, according to the index.
Most common is chattel slavery, meaning that slave status is passed down through generations.Slavery has been outlawed in Mauritania since 1961 and trafficking since 2003. Forced marriage and debt bondage are not criminalized.