Modern slavery is present in some form or another in 167 countries, according to a new report released Tuesday from the Walk Free Foundation. The organization's 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates that 45.8 million people are in some type of modern slavery, enslaved through "human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage or commercial sexual exploitation." The Index ranks the 167 countries based on the proportion of the population estimated to be in modern slavery.
Quantifying the number of people in modern slavery is a difficult task, the report says, because of "the hidden nature of this crime and low levels of victim identification." In 2016, the Walk Free Foundation measured the prevalence of modern slavery, drawing from data from nationally representative, random-sample surveys that Gallup has conducted since 2014 through its World Poll. The prevalence estimates in the Index are based on interviews with more than 42,000 adults conducted in 53 languages across 25 countries, including 15 state-level surveys in India.
The Index estimates that about 10 million more people are enslaved than Walk Free previously reported in 2014. Rather than suggesting an increase in the incidence of modern slavery, the report attributes this change to improvements in data quality and quantity.