Slavery continues to afflict almost 30 million people across the planet—in every one of 162 countries surveyed in a new report. India is home to 13.9 million slaves, by far the largest number; relative to population, however, Mauritania has the highest rate, with 4% of the population enslaved (though other groups have placed the figure as high as 20%). The new data comes from Australian activist organization Walk Free; its Global Slavery Index includes cases of human trafficking, forced labor and marriage, debt bondage, and other forms of exploitative control, Reuters notes.
Three-quarters of slaves are in just 10 countries, led by China, with 2.9 million; Pakistan, with 2.1 million; Nigeria; Ethiopia; and Russia. By percentage, Mauritania—where a "chattel" system sees masters with "total ownership over (slaves) and their descendants"—is followed by Haiti, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. Iceland, meanwhile, has both the lowest number and the lowest proportion of slaves. The US has some 59,000 people experiencing such exploitation, al-Jazeera America reports. Numbers of enslaved people in wealthy countries is often "six to 10 times higher" than leaders believe, weakening anti-slavery efforts, says an expert. (Read more Mauritania stories.)