01. what is modern slavery?

Slavery has existed in different forms since ancient times. Despite being outlawed in most countries and the abolitionist movement in the 1800s, the crime persists in ways more pervasive and complex than ever.

Modern slavery refers to situations where one person has taken away another person’s freedom – their freedom to control their body, their freedom to choose to refuse certain work or to stop working – so that they can be exploited. Freedom is taken away by threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power and deception.

Modern slavery is a plain English term. It is not a legal definition.

Different countries use different legal terminologies, but “modern slavery” includes the crimes of human trafficking, slavery and slavery like practices such as servitude, forced labour, forced or servile marriage, the sale and exploitation of children, and debt bondage.

02. forms of slavery

// Definition

Human trafficking

Human trafficking is the act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a person, through any coercive means (such as threat, use of force, deception or abuse) for the purpose of exploitation (e.g. forced labour, organ removal, sexual exploitation, etc.). For instance, someone may be trafficked into forced labour in the sex industry, garment industry, agricultural industry, domestic work or forced to work in some other sector.

Where the victim is a child under 18 years of age, there is no requirement of coercive means. It is sufficient if the child is both recruited and exploited through one of the recognised forms of exploitation.

1 United Nations, Article 3(a), Protocol To Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing The United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000, accessed 13/12/16: Link

// Definition

Slavery and slavery like practices

Slavery is defined in the Slavery Convention as the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised. In a later treaty, States agreed that there are also certain ‘slavery-like practices’: debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, sale or exploitation of children (including in armed conflict) and descent-based slavery.

// Definition

Debt bondage

Debt bondage is a status or condition, where one person has pledged their labour or service (or that of someone under their control), in circumstances where the fair value of that labour or service is not reasonably applied to reducing the debt or length of debt, or the length and nature of the service is not limited or defined.

// Definition

Descent-Based Slavery

Descent-based slavery describes the situation where people are born into slavery because their families were captured into slavery and have since ‘belonged’ to the slave owning families.

// Definition

Forced marriage

Any institution or practice where a woman, without the right to refuse, is promised or given in marriage on payment of money or in kind to her parents, guardian, family or any other person or group. It also includes practices where the husband of a woman, his family, or his clan, has the right to transfer her to another person for value received or otherwise and practices where a woman on the death of her husband is liable to be inherited by another person[1].

[1] United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner Human Rights, Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, accessed 8/6/2017: Link

// Definition

Forced labour

Forced labour is work or service that is taken from a person under the menace of a penalty and for which the person has not offered themselves voluntarily.[1]

According to the ILO, forced labour “refers to situations in which persons are coerced to work through the use of violence or intimidation, or by more subtle means such as manipulated debt, retention of identity papers or threats of denunciation to immigration authorities”.[2]

For instance, a man, woman or child can be in forced labour in the sex industry, garment industry , agricultural industry, domestic work or forced to work in some other sector.

[1] International Labour Organization, Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), accessed 13/12/16: Link

[2] International Labour Organization, What is forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking, accessed 01/03/17: Link

// Definition

Worst forms of child labour

Worst forms of child labour comprises all forms of slavery or slavery-like practices (such as the sale and trafficking of children or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict); the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs; or work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

03. where is modern slavery?

Just under two thirds of the estimated 40.3 million people in modern slavery were identified in the Asia-Pacific region. Many of the goods produced in the Asia Pacific region are linked to the global supply chain of many businesses across the world, including Australian businesses. In order to address the crime of modern slavery, it is essential that we focus on global supply chains to bring about long-lasting impactful change.

It is only by understanding what modern slavery is, and by measuring its scale that we can effectively tackle it.

Region
Sub-Saharan Africa
Proportion of global number
13.6%
Top 5 Forced Labour Products
Cotton, Diamonds, Gold, Textiles, Tobacco
Walk Free Foundation Events
Al Azhar declares fatwa against slavery (Egypt), 2014 Regional GSI Launch (Ethiopia)
Region
Americas
Proportion of global number
4.7%
Top 5 Forced Labour Products
Brazil Nuts, Cattle, Garments, Sugarcane, Timber
Walk Free Foundation Events
Joint estimate with ILO (NYC), 2014 Regional Launch GSI (Brazil, Rio)
Region
Europe
Proportion of global number
2.7%
Top 5 Forced Labour Products
Cotton, Cumin, Furniture, Hazelnuts, Peanuts
Walk Free Foundation Events
GFN (Italy, Vatican), 2016 Global Slavery Index Launch (U.K, London)
Region
Russia & Eurasia
Proportion of global number
6.1%
Top 5 Forced Labour Products
Coal, Cotton, Silk Cocoons
Walk Free Foundation Events
N/A
Region
The Middle East & North Africa (MENA)
Proportion of global number
6.4%
Top 5 Forced Labour Products
Bricks, Cotton, Fish, Potatoes, Tobacco
Walk Free Foundation Events
2014 Regional GSI Launch (Qatar)
Region
Asia Pacific
Proportion of global number
66.4%
Top 5 Forced Labour Products
Bricks, Coal, Cotton, Garments, Fish
Walk Free Foundation Events
GFN (Indonesia, Jakarta), GFN (India, New Delhi)

04. how are you connected?

With the rapid acceleration of globalisation, supply chains have exponentially grown, transforming the way businesses conduct cross-border production, investment, trade, and employment. Multinational enterprises are accountable for the majority of international trade. Their supply chains are inherently complex and dynamic supply chains.

Global supply chains are important as they create employment and opportunities for economic and social development. Yet when poorly managed, the demand for cheap labour, lack of visibility, dynamics of production in informal unregulated markets can have negative implications, including being at high risk for subjecting individuals to modern slavery. Weak institutions and poor enforcement capability in many host production nations means tackling modern slavery is beyond the power of national governments alone.

While many of these abuses occur in the supply chains of major global corporates, cases of blatant and deliberate corporate abuse are rare. Most do not even know what modern slavery looks like or just how susceptible their own supply chains are to it.

Businesses have the power to influence change within supply chain networks, to drive up standards and remove the profitability of modern slavery. Driving modern slavery from their supply chains is both morally right and good business.

05. why should you care?

Globalisation has brought tangible benefits and positive changes to many across the world. Technological advances have connected the world unlike any other time in history. Consumers are also more socially aware. And still, slavery continues to persist.

Modern slavery is hidden within the depths of criminal networks, trafficking people for exploitation, and occurs where legitimate industries meet informal economies. Modern slavery comes at a serious cost. Modern slavery suppresses the economy and reduces sustainable development.

There are some who say the problem is too hard, or that there are more pressing issues, or that it is for governments to do more, or that we can never end modern slavery. The Walk Free Foundation and many others believe that these are morally indefensible responses. We can, and we must do everything in our power to end modern slavery.

No one person or organisation can end modern slavery.

It is a complex web of criminal behaviour, where sometimes those committing the crimes have turned to cruel and desperate measures to survive themselves.

It’s time now to act and to work together to end modern slavery within this generation.