May 31, 2016 | Carey Wedler
The Global Slavery Index is a project of Walk Free, an Australian human rights organization dedicated to ending modern slavery, which researchers caution does not mean traditional slavery, in which “people were held in bondage as legal property.”
Even so, Andrew Forrest, the founder of Walk Free, suspected the 28 percent increase from 2014 to 2016 was “due to better data collection, although he feared the situation was getting worse with global displacement and migration increasing vulnerability to all forms of slavery,” Reutersreported.
The new analysis highlights the persistence of slavery in modern society, cataloguing the worst-offending nations and noting that instances of modern slavery occurred in all 167 countries included in the study.
According to the report, 58 percent of individuals forced into modern slavery were located in five countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan. Those nations had the highest “absolute” number of slaves — India was found to have over 18 million slaves, and China, which took second place, had over 3 million.
The report also listed nations with the highest proportions of slaves relative to their total populations: North Korea, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, India, and Qatar.
With over 1.1 million slaves in a nation of just over 25 million, North Korea had the highest proportion of victims, with 4.373 percent of the population subject to servitude. That amounts to roughly 1 in 20 North Korean citizens forced into slavery. As the report explains, in North Korea, “there is pervasive evidence that government-sanctioned forced labour occurs in an extensive system of prison labour camps while North Korean women are subjected to forced marriage and commercial sexual exploitation in China and other neighbouring states.”
The 2016 index further noted other instances of state-sponsored slavery, naming Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Belarus, China, Eritrea, Russia, Swaziland, and Vietnam — as well as North Korea — as the worst offenders.
Interestingly, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Libya, all nations subject to U.S. military intervention, tied for sixth place in the list of oppressive countries by proportion to population — totaling several million designated modern slaves among them. But the researchers did not include these nations’ governments when they analyzed efforts to curb slavery, perhaps unintentionally highlighting yet another oppressive force in the contemporary human experience:
“Due to the ongoing conflict and extreme disruption to government function,” they note, “we have not included ratings for Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria or Yemen.”
Critics of the report challenged the statistical methods, arguing the analysts used “flawed methodology by extrapolating on-the-ground surveys in some countries to estimate numbers for other nations.” However, as Reutersreported, “Forrest said a lack of hard data on slavery in the past had held back efforts to tackle this hidden crime and it was important to draw a ‘sand in the line’ measurement to drive action.” He challenged critics to produce an alternative.
“Without measurement you don’t have effective management and there’s no way to lead the world away from slavery,”he said.
Discussing options for eradicating modern slavery, Forrest, an Australian mining billionaire and philanthropist, singled out businesses that fail to scrutinize slavery in the production of their products. “Businesses that don’t actively look for forced labour within their supply chains are standing on a burning platform. Business leaders who refuse to look into the realities of their own supply chains are misguided and irresponsible,” he said. As Reuters noted, the “2016 index again found Asia, which provides low-skilled labor in global supply chains producing clothing, food and technology, accounted for two-thirds of the people in slavery.”
Calling on leaders in government and civil society (as well as business), to work harder in eradicating modern slavery, Forrest ultimately waxed optimistic.
“Through our responsible use of power, strength of conviction, determination and collective will, we all can lead the world to end slavery,” he said.
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Americans will be celebrating Memorial Day this weekend, to honor those who fought and died for the values they have traditionally cherished the most as a nation: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The world has changed dramatically in recent decades. The geopolitical situation is much more complex, with rising powers challenging America’s supremacy. The intractable war on terror seems interminable. Old foes appear to spring back to life even more powerful than before. And things at home look dicey in terms of politics and economics.
As we reflect upon the ultimate sacrifice that others have made, it is an opportune moment to consider a very important question: is the US winning the fight for freedom?
More than other dictatorial regimes, “totalitarianism” represents the opposite of everything America is supposed to stand for. For most people it conjures images of a repressive leader and his minions having total control of a society with very limited freedoms. That’s not too far off from reality, but there’s more to it and a process to get there.
The term was first coined by Giovanni Amendola in 1923 to describe the emergence of Italian fascism (which was different from other dictatorships). However, it only gained traction in academic research during the 1960s largely based on the work of political scientists Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski. They reformulated the definition to account for the Soviet Union as well as the fascist regimes of the 20th century, where a totalitarian system featured the following mutually-supportive defining characteristics:
- An elaborate guiding ideology;
- A single mass party, typically led by a dictator;
- A system of terror, using such instruments as violence and secret police;
- A state monopoly on weapons;
- A state monopoly on the means of communication; and
- Central direction and control of the economy through state planning.
My initial premise, when looking at all human issues, is that each of us owns himself. I am my private property, and you are your private property. If you agree with that premise, then certain human actions are moral and others immoral. The reason murder is immoral is that it violates private property. Similarly, rape and theft are immoral, for them, too, violate private property. Most Americans will agree that murder and rape violate people’s property rights and are hence immoral. But there may not be so much agreement about theft. Let’s look at it
Theft is when a person’s property is taken from him — through stealth, force, intimidation, threats or coercion — and given to another to whom it does not belong. If a person took your property — even to help another person who is in need — it would be called theft. Suppose three people agreed to that taking. Would it be deemed theft? What if 100,000 or several hundred million people agreed to do so? Would that be deemed theft? Another way to ask these questions is: Does a consensus establish morality?
Self-ownership can offer solutions to many seemingly moral/ethical dilemmas. One is the sale of human organs. There is a severe shortage of organs for transplantation. Most people in need of an organdie or become very ill while they await an organ donation. Many more organs would become available if there were a market for them. Through the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, Congress has made organ sales illegal. Congress clearly has the power to prevent organ sales, but does it have a right? The answer to that question comes by asking: Who owns your organs? One test of ownership is whether you have the right to sell something. In the case of organs, if it is Congress that owns our organs, then we have no right to sell them. That would be stealing from Congress.