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India tops world slavery list, but charity cites improvement

01 June 2016, 11:18

New Delhi — A charity aimed at rescuing children from forced labor said Wednesday that while India tops a recent global slavery index, the situation is improving in the South Asian nation.

The Walk Free Foundation counted some 18.35 million modern slaves in India in its index released Tuesday. That includes children and adults forced into labor, often unpaid or to pay off a debt.

The index showed China with the second highest number, 3.39 million, and Pakistan next with 2.13 million. North Korea was found to have the highest per capita rate of modern slavery, with 4.37 percent of its population affected.

Ramesh Senge from Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi's charity Save the Children Movement said that while slavery in India is a problem, the situation is improving with more awareness, legal reforms and rescue campaigns.

Senger cited India's garment industry hub in the Indian capital as an example of how police-backed raids could end child labor. "We rescued nearly 400 children in the area between 2012-2014," he said. "The garments industry in the area no longer employs child labor."

The report ranked 167 countries by the number of people affected by practices included forced labor, debt bondage, forced marriage and sexual exploitation. The total of 45.8 million is 10 million more than the group estimated in its last report in 2014.

- AP


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