UK & World News
Up To 30m People 'Live As Modern-Day Slaves'
Some 30 million people around the world are living as so-called modern-day slaves, according to an inaugural report by the Walk Free Foundation.
The Global Slavery Index 2013 reveals African and Asian countries have the highest numbers of slaves and the highest proportion according to population density.
Britain, Ireland and Iceland are placed joint bottom in the prevalence table of 162 countries.
While Iceland is believed to have fewer than 100 slaves, Britain is understood to have up to 4,600.
The study defines slavery as the possession or control of people to deny freedom and exploit them for profit or sex, usually through violence, coercion or deception.
It includes practices such as debt-bondage, forced marriage, forced begging, human trafficking, forced labour and the abduction of children to serve in war.
The report said: "Today some people are still being born into hereditary slavery, a staggering but harsh reality, particularly in parts of west Africa and south Asia.
"Other victims are captured or kidnapped before being sold or kept for exploitation, whether through marriage, unpaid labour on fishing boats, or as domestic workers.
"Others are tricked and lured into situations they cannot escape, with false promises of a good job or an education."
Almost half of the world's slaves are in India, where bonded labour in quarries and kilns and commercial sex exploitation is widespread.
The report reveals some 10 countries alone account for three quarters of the world's slaves.
After India, China has the most with 2.9 million, followed by Pakistan (2.1 million), Nigeria (701,000), Ethiopia (651,000), Russia (516,000), Thailand (473,000), Democratic Republic of Congo (462,000), Myanmar (384,000) and Bangladesh (343,000).
When ranked by prevalence of slavery per head of population, Mauritania ranks highest with almost 4% of its 3.8 million people reported to be enslaved, though estimates by other organisations put the level at up to 20%.
Chattel slavery is common in Mauritania, meaning that slave status is passed down through generations, with 'owners' buying, renting or giving away their slaves as gifts.
After Mauritania, slavery is most prevalent by population in Haiti, where a system of child labour known as "restavek" encourages poor families to send their children to wealthier acquaintances, where many end up exploited and abused.
Nick Grono from the Walk Free Foundation said the annual index would serve as an important baseline for governments and activists in the anti-slavery fight.
"This kind of data hasn't been out there before," he said.
"It's a multi-year effort, and next year we'll have a much better picture of where slavery is and what changes there are."