The Global Slavery Index 2013 and Gloomy Picture of Pakistan

GSI 2013The Global Slavery Index (GSI) 2013 is the first report being prepared and published by the Walk Free Foundation (WFF), also known as Walk Free. The GSI report means to fill gaps in information about the size and nature of the modern slavery, risk factors, and the effectiveness of responses by different stakeholders. The GSI report aims to “inform and empower civil society groups working on this issue, and to assist governments to strengthen their efforts to eliminate all forms of modern slavery.”

The GSI report provides a gloomy picture of Pakistan. Of the total 29.8 million modern slaves in the world, 2.2 million (7 percent) modern slaves are in Pakistan. Of the ten most populous countries with modern slave, Pakistan is on number three after India and China with the prevalence of highest modern slaves. After Pakistan, seven other countries on the top ten list of the index are: Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. All these ten countries have 76 percent of the total modern slaves and considered to be in absolute terms.

It is interesting to note that countries like Sri Lanka and Afghanistan which have remained under a war for a long time but there is low prevalence of modern slaves.

According to the GSI report Pakistan’s porous borders with Afghanistan, displacement and poor rule of law are the reasons of modern slavery. Of the 179 million people in Pakistan, about 2.2 people are caught in modern slavery; these slaves are abused, exploited, raped, tortured and killed which go unnoticed generally. The GSI report also suggests that poverty and illiteracy are also major reasons of making people, especially children, vulnerable to different forms of modern slavery.

In the world, Pakistan is amongst those top ten countries on the Index which has extremely poor or worst national response to address the issue of modern slavery.

In Asia, due to highest prevalence and risk of enslavement, Pakistan is ranked number one and India number two; though India has 14.7 million modern slaves as compared to Pakistan 2.2 million modern slaves. It means due to India’s national efforts risk of enslavement is decreasing or is lower, but in Pakistan due to absence of national efforts risk of enslavement is highest.

The GSI report should be an eye opener for the federal and provincial governments. This is time to act for a comprehensive response mechanism to address modern forms of slavery and should give due considerations to the recommendations given recommendations to Pakistan in the Universal Periodic Review (2012) related to modern slavery. Some of those are:
-Ireland recommended to develop a clear implementation and monitoring plan for the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1992, the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Rules, 1995 and the National Policy and Plan of Action for the Abolition of Bonded Labour, 2001 (recommendation 122.60, accepted by Pakistan).
-Djibouti recommended to continue fighting against trafficking of children and violence against women (recommendation 122.105, accepted by Pakistan).
-Slovakia recommended to enact efficient legislation to prohibit and prevent the employment of children as domestic workers (recommendation 122.39, noted by Pakistan).

However, in the narrative on Pakistan, the GSI report has missed to mention various very pertinent issues. Some of those include: *Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UNCRC on the involvement of children in armed conflict and Child Domestic Labour (CDL). Pakistan has not ratified the Optional Protocol and it does not recognize CDL as a form of modern slavery which highly prevalent in Pakistan. *The GSI report states that higher prevelance of bonded labour is in bricklin sector, whereas yet there are no such substantiated reports by the relevant organizations such as ILO and PILER. *The report also states that Islamic Sharia allows for child marriages which is also cause of modern slavery of women and girls; however, if the existing the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 (which sets age of marriage for girls 16 and for boys 18) was against the Sharia, it would have been revoked by the Sharia courts; in practice there is problem with the implementing institutions and lack of interest in governments. *The GSI report also misses to mention data on child marriages cases (prevalance rate). The aspect including data on prostitution is completly lacking in the report. *Some of the important and relevant data in the report is outdated. *The report should also have given some narrative about difference between slavery and modern slavery.

The WFF defines modern slavery which includes following three categories:
A- Trafficking Slavery: 1) Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons. 2) By means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the
giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person (these means are not required in the case of children). 3) With the intent of exploiting that person through: Prostitution of others; Sexual exploitation; Forced labour; Slavery (or similar practices); Servitude; and Removal of organs (UN Trafficking Protocol, 2000).
B- Slavery: The status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised. Includes slavery-like practices: debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, sale or exploitation of children (including in armed conflict) and descent-based slavery. (The Slavery Convention (1926) and Supplementary Slavery Convention (1956))
C- Forced Labour: All work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily. (ILO Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29))

Please find the GSI report at: or