Why in News?
A new report, ‘The Global Slavery Index 2023’, by the Walk Free Foundation. Highlights the increasing prevalence of modern slavery worldwide, with the number of people living in such conditions reaching 50 million—an alarming 25% rise in the past five years.
- The report emphasises the significant role played by G20 nations in exacerbating this crisis through their trade operations and global supply chains.
- India, China, Russia, Indonesia, Turkey, and the U.S. are among the top G20 countries with the highest number of forced labourers.
What is Modern Slavery?
- Modern slavery encompasses various forms of exploitation, including forced labour, forced marriage, debt bondage, commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, slavery-like practices. And the sale and exploitation of children.
- Modern slavery has devastating consequences for individuals, communities, and societies.
- It violates human rights, undermines human dignity and erodes social cohesion.
- It also hampers economic development, perpetuates inequality, and fuels corruption. It poses a threat to global security and stability by fuelling conflict, terrorism, and organised crime.
What is India’s Stance On Modern Slavery?
- India has taken legislative measures to combat modern slavery, including the Bonded Labour Abolition Act of 1976 (the Act was amended in 1985 to include contract and migrant workers). And the Central scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labour.
- The Supreme Court has also ruled that non-payment of minimum wages amounts to “forced labour” under Article 23 of the Constitution.
- Challenges remain in implementation of the Acts, corruption, legal loopholes, and lack of politics. That hinders effective eradication of modern slavery in the country.
- For instance, Growing evidence shows indigenous communities and those engaged in fishing and agriculture in States like Odisha and West Bengal have become victims of debt bondage, human trafficking and mass displacement.
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Need of the Hour:
- Multi Pronged Approach:
- Government needs to enact and enforce laws that criminalise all forms of modern slavery and protect the rights of victims.
- Businesses need to ensure that their operations and supply chains are free from forced labour and human trafficking.
- Civil society needs to raise awareness, advocate for change, and provide support to survivors.
- Individuals need to educate themselves about the issue, demand transparency from companies they buy from or invest in, and report any suspected cases of modern slavery they encounter.
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