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Global Slavery Index 2023

GS Paper 1/2

 Syllabus: Indian society/Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections

 

Source: TH

Context: According to the Walk Free Foundation’s Global Slavery Index 2023, 50 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery – a 25% rise over the last five years.

 

Modern slavery:

  • It refers to situations of exploitation in that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, or deception.
  • It manifests as forced labour, child labour, forced marriage, debt bondage, commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, etc.

 

The Global Slavery Index:

  • It is an assessment of modern slavery conditions in 160 countries.
  • It uses data released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), etc.
  • The Index provides rankings across 3 dimensions: Size of the problem (prevalence), Government response and Vulnerability (political instability, inequality).
  • The 2023 index is significant as India holds the G20 presidency this year, with a focus on sustainable development and climate change mitigation.

 

Highlights of the Global Slavery Index 2023:

  • 50 million people were living in conditions of modern slavery on any given day in 2021.
  • The practice has become more prevalent over the last five years (a 25%/10 million rise), due to climate change, armed conflict, weak governance and COVID-19.
  • G20 nations account for more than half of all people living in modern slavery because their trade operations and global supply chains allow for human rights abuses.

 

The situation within G20 nations: India tops the list with 11 million people working as forced labourers, followed by China, Russia, Indonesia, Turkey and the U.S.

 

Challenges:

  • SDG 8.7 [ending forced labour and modern slavery]: High prevalence of modern slavery and stagnating government action highlight the difficulty in achieving this goal by 2030.
  • Sectors of the economy promote modern slavery: Like the textile industry promotes conditions of forced and unpaid work, lack of benefits (maternity leave), etc.
  • Poor govt policies: For example, the “Sumangali” scheme in Tamil Nadu traps women and girls from marginalised locations to work in exploitative conditions in spinning mills.

 

Way ahead:

  • South-south cooperation to bring more transparency in value chains, social security for workers at all stages, and holding corporations accountable in multilateral and bilateral free trade agreements.
  • Implementing stronger measures and legislations that prevent governments and businesses from sourcing goods and services linked to modern slavery.
  • Embedding anti-slavery measures in climate change sustainability plans.
  • Providing primary and secondary education to children and tightening regulations around forced and child marriage.
Case of India
Vulnerable populationIndigenous communities and those engaged in fishing and agriculture in States like Odisha and West Bengal have become victims of debt bondage, human trafficking and mass displacement.
India’s Stance on modern slaveryThe Bonded Labour Abolition Act 1976.

A Central Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labour.

According to the SC, non-payment of minimum wages amounts to “forced labour” under Article 23 of the Constitution.

ChallengesPoor implementation of laws due to corruption, apathy, legal loopholes and lack of political will.

India’s new Labour Codes (which are yet to be implemented) may give “legal sanction” to forced labour by extending work hours and diluting the social security of people working in the organised and unorganised sectors.

No data on people stuck in modern slavery: India’s last national survey of bonded labour was done in the mid-90s.

Best practiceStates like Tamil Nadu have initiated plans to conduct a survey;

Conclusion:

  • Strong legislation and accountability of G20 nations must be ensured to empower vulnerable communities.
  • The road to preventing forced labour goes through the right of access to public goods, global commons and decent work.

 

Insta Links:

‘Modern slavery’