By: Ian Van Buren
Recently, the 2013 Global Slavery Index was released. The index reveals accurate estimates of the amount of slavery that exists around the world, listing the number of enslaved people by country. The index lists India as No. 1, the largest offender, with 13.9 million people living under conditions of slavery. In terms of prevalence, Mauritania tops the list with 151,000 people living as slaves – nearly 4% of the country’s total population of 3.8 million. Haiti follows with 209,000 of its 10 million residents living under such conditions.
Of the 162 countries measured by the Global Slavery Index, Jamaica ranks far down the list at 124, and is recorded as having 2,400 enslaved of its 2.7 million people. Although that number is low, many people like Danny Roberts, head of the Trade Union Educational Institute at the University of the West Indies is upset that the issue exists, and that Jamaica fares worse in the category than most of its neighboring countries like Barbados or Cuba.
“I am certainly not happy with the status of our ranking, which clearly indicates that much more work has to be done in terms of dealing with human trafficking and the exploitation of our children, which are the two areas of concern,” Roberts said.
The Global Slavery Index classifies victims of modern slavery as anyone who has their freedoms denied and are used, controlled and exploited by another person for profit, sex or the thrill of domination. The index explains that modern slavery is different, takes many forms and is represented by human trafficking, forced labor, slavery or slavery-like practices, forced or servile marriage, or the sale and exploitation of children, including modern conflicts.
Many agree that targeting the problem starts with improving the lives and culture of Jamaica’s children. The Youth and Culture Minister, Lisa Hanna, has promised a United Nations Committee that special attention will be directed toward child exploitation.
Hanna told a United Nations Third Level Committee on the Rights of the Child, with focus placed squarely on breaking the back of the problem, that a ministerial team has been pursuing a policy-based agenda committed to the transformation of the culture of how the society cares for and protects children.
The minister said that the country’s child-protection actions are contained in the emerging National Framework of Action for Children 2012-2017. “It speaks to the responsibility of the State, as well as the seminal role to be played by parents,” Hanna said.
The 2013 Global Slavery Index:
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