A recent survey has revealed that of the 30 million slaves worldwide, 701, 000 of them are in Nigeria.
A report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation disclosed that most of the enslaved are trafficked into brothels, forced into manual labour, victims of debt bondage or even born into servitude.
The global index on modern slavery, which was released on Thursday, showed that almost half are in India, where slavery ranges from bonded labour in quarries and kilns to commercial sex exploitation, although the scourge exists in all 162 countries surveyed by Walk Free, an Australian-based rights group.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour.
“Today some people are still being born into hereditary slavery, a staggering but harsh reality, particularly in parts of West Africa and South Asia,” the report said.
“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,” the report added.
According to the index, 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).
The index also ranks nations by prevalence of slavery per head of population. By this measure, Mauritania is worst, with almost 4 percent of its 3.8 million people enslaved. Estimates by other organisations put the level at up to 20 percent.
Pakistan, India, Nepal, Moldova, Benin, Ivory Coast, Gambia and Gabon have the next highest prevalence rates.
At the other end of the scale, Iceland has the lowest estimated prevalence with fewer than 100 slaves.
Next best are Ireland, Britain, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Finland and Denmark, although researchers said slave numbers in such wealthy countries were higher than previously thought.
“They’ve been allocating resources against this crime according to the tiny handful of cases that they’ve been aware of,” said Kevin Bales, lead researcher and a professor at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at Hull University.
“Our estimates are telling them that the numbers of people in slavery – whether it’s in Great Britain or Finland or wherever – in these richer countries actually tends to be about six to 10 times higher than they think it is,” he explained.