There are an estimated 45.8 million people around the world currently trapped in modern slavery, including 6,500 people in Canada, a charity said Tuesday.
The Walk Free Foundation, a global organization aimed to end modern slavery, released its 2016 Global Slavery Index in London, England on Tuesday, shedding light on slavery in 167 countries.
According to the index, 58 per cent of the estimated 45.8 million of those living in slavery reside in five countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan.
Of the 167 countries, the highest estimated prevalence of slavery by population ratio is North Korea (4.37 per cent), Uzbekistan (3.97 per cent), Cambodia (1.65 per cent), India (1.40 per cent), and Qatar (1.36 per cent), according to the index.
However, based on what the charity calls “absolute numbers,” India remains the highest with an estimated 18.35 million people living in slavery, followed by China (3.39 million), Pakistan (2.13 million), Bangladesh (1.53 million), and Uzbekistan (1.23million).
Canada is among 12 nations with the lowest estimated prevalence of modern slavery, according to the charity. The index put Canada’s population at 35,871,000 with an estimated 6,500 or 0.018 per cent people living in slavery.
The report ranked 167 countries by the number of people affected by practices of forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage and commercial sexual exploitation.
The total of 45.8 million is 10 million more than the group estimated in its last report in 2014.
The reported cited that the agricultural sector in the U.S. and Canada as a high risk area for enslavement.
“Others sectors have also been identified as high risk including construction, hospitality and domestic service,” the report said.
Walk Free Foundation chairman Andrew Forrest said the level of slavery hadn’t necessarily increased, but more data was available, the Associated Press reported.
“My gut feeling is that it is actually increasing still and it will be a year or two before it turns around,” he said. “But it is going to turn around, the way the world is waking up to it.
“We’re going to look back on 2016, 2015, and see that’s where it all started to change, that’s where India started to move aggressively against slavery,” he said.
The charity’s founder said businesses are key to ending modern slavery.
“Businesses that don’t actively look for forced labour within their supply chains are standing on a burning platform,” Forrest said in a statement. “Business leaders who refuse to look into the realities of their own supply chains are misguided and irresponsible.”
–The Associated Press contributed to this report.