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24th June 2023 (6 Topics)

Climate change has exacerbated modern slavery & Poverty


According to a new report by Walk Free, ‘Climate change’, along with other environmental factors, has exacerbated modern slavery.

  • This problem has been identified in Africa, where the government response to curtail the menace was also the poorest, according to ‘the Global Slavery Index 2023’.

Global Slavery Index 2023:

  • Key points:
    • India, China, Russia, Indonesia, Turkey, and the U.S. are among the top G20 countries with the highest number of forced labourers.
    • It ranks 160 countries based on their estimated prevalence of modern slavery per 1,000 people.
    • The countries with the highest prevalence are North Korea (104.6), Eritrea (90.3), and Mauritania (32.0), where modern slavery is widespread and often state-sponsored.
    • The countries with the lowest prevalence are Switzerland (0.5), Norway (0.5), and Germany (0.6), where strong governance and effective responses to modern slavery are evident.

Africa as a ‘Hotspot’ for Modern slavery:

  • More than 1 million Africans are in forced marriage and more than 3.8 million in forced labour, the report stated.
  • On any given day in 2021, an estimated seven million men, women and children were living in modern slavery in Africa.
  • The countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery in Africa are Eritrea, Mauritania and South Sudan.
  • The countries with the lowest prevalence of modern slavery in Africa are Mauritius, Lesotho and Botswana.
  • The region recorded the fourth highest prevalence of modern slavery after the Arab States (10.1 per thousand), Europe and Central Asia (6.9) and Asia and the Pacific (6.8).

One in every 300 females in the region was in a forced marriage compared to one in every thousand males.

Modern slavery and consequences:

  • Modern slavery encompasses various forms of exploitation, including forced labour, forced marriage, debt bondage, commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, slavery-like practices and the sale and exploitation of children.
  • Modern slavery has devastating consequences for individuals, communities, and societies.
    • It violates human rights, undermines human dignity and erodes social cohesion.
    • It also hampers economic development, perpetuates inequality, and fuels corruption. It poses a threat to global security and stability by fuelling conflict, terrorism, and organised crime.

Reasons for increasing Modern slavery:

  • Adverse climate impacts: Climate change has magnified other drivers of displacement such as loss of livelihoods, poverty, food insecurity and a lack of access to water and other resources.
    • Thus, people are pushed to migrate and become vulnerable to modern slavery.
    • For example: In the Horn of Africa, increases in the rate of child marriages in drought-affected areas have been linked to the impacts of the climate crisis, particularly economic and food insecurity, displacement from homes and interrupted education for girls.
  • Lack adequate livelihood options: become more vulnerable to forced labour as they and may be easily tricked into accepting risky opportunities for survival.
  • Limited Government intervention: While some governments improved identification measures but legal frameworks, gaps in services available to survivors remained and only limited action has been taken to address systemic risk factors to modern slavery.

Measures to be taken:

  • Multi-Pronged Approach:
    • Government needs to enact and enforce laws that criminalise all forms of modern slavery and protect the rights of victims.
    • Businesses need to ensure that their operations and supply chains are free from forced labour and human trafficking.
  • Increasing awareness: Civil society needs to raise awareness, advocate for change, and provide support to survivors.
    • Individuals need to educate themselves about the issue, demand transparency from companies they buy from or invest in, and report any suspected cases of modern slavery they encounter
  • Survey on Bonded Labour:
    • There is also a need to property identify and enumerate people stuck in modern slavery conditions. India’s last national survey of bonded labour was done in the mid-90s.

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