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Report Estimates 400K Modern Slaves in US

Global survey also faults America for buying goods produced by slave labor
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2018 8:22 AM CDT
In this 2017 file photo, Rohingya Muslim women, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, stretch their arms out to collect sanitary products distributed by aid agencies near Balukhali refugee camp,...   (AP Photo/Dar Yasin, File)

(Newser) – A new survey on modern slavery around the world pegs the number of people in the US who fall into that category at about 400,000, reports the Guardian. The new Global Slavery Index also puts the number worldwide at 40.3 million and rising. While modern slaves in the US make up just a fraction of that figure, the group behind the survey—the Walk Free Foundation—says America plays a deeper role in the problem as the biggest importer of goods produced by suspected slave labor. The 2016 estimate was $144 billion worth of such goods. Other report highlights:

  • Worst offenders: North Korea has the highest concentration of modern slaves, who account for 1 in 10 of the population, or 2.6 million people, reports CNN. Then comes Eritrea, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Mauritania, South Sudan, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Iran.

  • Women hit hardest: The vast majority of modern slaves, 71%, are women, reports Axios. The usual route is through forced marriages.
  • Solutions: The foundation calls for outlawing forced marriages, setting a minimum marriage age of 18, setting up a database of human trafficking cases, and bringing greater transparency to the world's supply chain.
  • One victim: "Over 40 million people ... they are not numbers," says North Korean defector Yeon-mi Park, who escaped to China only to be forced into a marriage, per the AP. "It could be anyone. It was me. It was my mother. It was my sister. Even now, there are 300,000 North Korean defectors in China, and 90% of them are being trafficked. They are being sold by Chinese men for a few hundred dollars."
(Read more slavery stories.)

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