Modern Slavery Facts


While it is impossible to know the full scale of how many victims of modern slavery are around the world, the Global Slavery Index and the Walk Free Foundation worked together to use regional estimates, administrative data from the International Organization for Migration databases, and more than 71,000 interviews to estimate (“Global Slavery Index,” 2018)*:

• There are currently 40.3 million people in modern slavery worldwide

• 71% of victims are female; 29% male

• 1 in 4 victims are children

• The top countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery include North Korea, Eritrea, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Mauritania, South Sudan, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Iran,
but it is a global issue.

What causes modern slavery?

Modern slavery issues are often discussed around push and pull factors. Push factors are elements of an individual’s life that puts them in a vulnerable position, including war/violence/genocide, lack of employment and educational opportunities, natural disasters and displacement, poverty, and emotional needs/lack of feeling loved or wanted. Traffickers then use pull factors, or opportunities that they offer vulnerable individuals that can be used as leverage or used to deceive/coerce an individual into exploitation, including accommodation, work or education opportunities, safety and security, or love and affection.

Traffickers are motivated by financial and/or personal gratification. Human trafficking is also fueled by corruption, such as law enforcement officials that are involved in human trafficking. However, there is generally difficulty in finding and removing individuals from exploitative situations due to the lack of widespread knowledge around modern slavery issues as well as difficulty in prosecuting traffickers.


What are the impacts of modern slavery on victim/survivors?

• Physical health: starvation/dehydration, beatings, chronic pain, infectious disease, rape, STI’s/HIV, unwanted pregnancy, infertility, and more.

• Mental health: PTSD, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts/attempts, Stockholm Syndrome, substance misuse, memory loss, distrust in people, feelings of guilt, shame, self-blame, and more.

• Ostracism: in some situations, the trafficker may have turned the trafficking victim against their family and/or friends, or isolated them to the point they do not feel like they can go back to them for help and support. In some cultures, a trafficking victim, especially those sexually exploited, may be ostracized from the family or entire village for having sex before marriage or selling their bodies, regardless if they were forced into it or not.

• Criminal: many victims are not understood to be human trafficking victims and are found guilty of crimes they committed while being exploited. This not only may mean serving time in prison but gives them a criminal record that makes it more difficult to move forward from their exploitation and live independently.

• Lack of independent living skills: sometimes physical and mental health issues may leave individuals unable to work and support themselves, or they may not receive adequate support and have no financial means to take care of themselves, or be in a foreign country and not speak the language, understand their rights, or know how to get a job.

Aims and Objectives of Combatting Modern Slavery

Anti-slavery and anti-trafficking work are often discussed around the 3P’s:

• Prosecution: meaning strengthening anti-trafficking laws, such as imposing harsher sentences to deter criminals from participating in human trafficking crimes or training law enforcement officials to be better equipped at finding and arresting traffickers.

• Protection: enhancing law enforcement’s ability to identify victims, using the victim-centred and person-centered approach where each individual victim/survivor is cared for within their own unique needs, and providing adequate support services for survivors to move forward, feel safe, and live independently.

• Prevention: raising awareness to the general public, such as training professionals who may come into contact with potential victims (health care, hospitality, airlines, border force, etc.), and holding companies to a higher standard for supply chain management to eliminate exploitation in supply chains.

*Global Slavery Index, 2018