The latest Global Slavery Index has revealed some deeply disturbing realities of slavery in Australia. An estimated 15,000 people live in slave-like conditions. Previously that number was 4300, but more sophisticated measurement has seen that number triple in recent years as the situation is revealed to be more dire than originally thought.
The Guardian reports the industries that have been found to have the highest rates of slave-like conditions are hospitality, construction, agriculture and sex work. But they also flag the existence of people creating these conditions in their own homes through illegally and exploitative domestic help arrangement.
The index also revealed how Australian consumerism feeds into the issues around global slavery. They found that Australia imports nealy US $12 billion worth of goods that may be made by slaves each year. The majority of these goods are from China, they’re mostly electronics and garments.
The Walk Free Foundation report there are estimated to be 40.3 million victims of modern slavery across the world. 25 million people are enslaved across the wider Asia pacific region alone — making up a staggering 62 percent of the global total.
North Korea have the highest rates per capita — more than one in 10 people are victims of modern slavery. With India, China and Pakistan holding the highest numbers overall. The Walk Free Foundation notes that people who are “linguistically isolated, culturally disoriented, subjected to crushing debts and have little to no knowledge of their rights” are most at risk
In May of this year the Federal Government announced they were committing $3.6 million over four years to the Department of Home Affairs for a new Anti-Slavery Business Engagement Unit.