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701,000 Nigerians Live Under Modern Slavery Conditions -Report

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

By Eric Ojo

No fewer than 701,000 Nigerians are currently living in conditions of modern slavery, a Global Slavery Index report launched on Thursday has said.

The Global Slavery Index presents a ranking of 162 countries, based on a combination of three factors which include, estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population, levels of child marriage, and levels of human trafficking into and out of the country. This, according to the report, gives the “weighted measure.”


Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

In addition, not all the countries in the world are represented in the Global Slavery Index. The 162 countries that are included, however, represent nearly all of the world’s 7 billion people. These countries collect a sufficient amount of standardised data to allow comparison across countries and regions. While equally as important, those countries that have not been included are for the most part, those having fewer than 100,000 citizens.

According to the latest index, Nigeria ranks amongst one of the top 10 countries which accounts for 76 per cent of the present 29.8 million people living in slavery across the globe. The report said countries with the highest numbers of enslaved people are India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The report further disclosed that India takes the lead in modern slavery with an estimated population of between 13,300,000 to 14,700,000 people enslaved. The India country study, the report added, suggests that while this involves the exploitation of some foreign nationals, by far the largest proportion of this problem is the exploitation of Indians citizens within India itself, particularly through debt bondage and bonded labour.

“After India, China has the most with 2.9 million, followed by Pakistan (2.1 million), Nigeria (701,000), Ethiopia (651,000), Russia (516,000), Thailand (473,000), Democratic Republic of Congo (462,000), Myanmar (384,000) and Bangladesh (343,000). The index also ranks nations by prevalence of slavery per head of population. By this measure, Mauritania is worst, with almost 4 per cent of its 3.8 million people enslaved. Estimates by other organisations put the level at up to 20 per cent.

“Chattel slavery is common in Mauritania, meaning that slave status is passed down through generations. ‘Owners’ buy, sell, rent out or give away their slaves as gifts. After Mauritania, slavery is most prevalent by population in Haiti, where a system of child labour known as ‘restavek’ encourages poor families to send their children to wealthier acquaintances, where many end up exploited and abused. Pakistan, India, Nepal, Moldova, Benin, Ivory Coast, Gambia and Gabon have the next highest prevalence rates”, the report stated.

While making further clarifications on the spate on modern slavery in China, the report equally revealed that forced labour of men, women and children in many parts of the Chinese economy, including domestic servitude and forced begging, the sexual exploitation of women and children, and forced marriage accounts for the high rate of slavery there.

It also posited that Iceland has the lowest estimated prevalence with fewer than 100 slaves, adding that the next best are Ireland, Britain, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Finland and Denmark. The report pointed out that researchers have nevertheless said slave numbers in such wealthy countries were higher than previously thought.

Lending credence to this, Kevin Bales, lead researcher and a Professor at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at Hull University said: “They’ve been allocating resources against this crime according to the tiny handful of cases that they’ve been aware of. Our estimates are telling them that the numbers of people in slavery, whether it’s in Great Britain or Finland or wherever – in these richer countries actually tends to be about six to 10 times higher than they think it is”.


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