Slavery is still widespread and practiced even in the most “advanced countries.” To confirm it is the Global Slavery Index by the Walk Free Foundation that analyzes the impact of slavery in 168 countries and their ability to cope with the problem. Worldwide, over 48 million people are enslaved. First place for percentage of slaves in the population is for North Korea (4.37 percent). But referring to the largest number of “slaves”, is India to lead the standings (18.35 millions slaves), followed by China (3.39 millions), Pakistan (2.13 millions), Bangladesh (1.53 millions) and Uzbekistan (1.23 millions).
In this ranking, Italy is 49th (second in Europe, after Poland). Other European countries do much better: Germany (at 117th with 14,500 people enslaved), France (124th with 12,000 slaves), Britain (127th with 11,700) and Spain (at 134th with 8,400). According to researchers, in Europe there are still 1,243,400 slaves, about 2.7 percent of the population. Most of them are women (about 80 percent). Women are often victims of sexual exploitation for commercial purposes. They come from Romania but also from sub-Saharan Africa, specially from Nigeria: according to the National Referral in the UK, this country remains one of the most commonly recorded countries of origin for victims of trafficking.
In Europe, the phenomenon is closely related to the problem of migrants. In 2015-2016, the crisis European migrants politically, economically and socially demonstrated the EU’s vulnerability: in the ranking the score was very low, 27.1 out of 100. Measures to eliminate this phenomenon are often ineffective: in Italy, for example, there is a national board that includes NGOs and national authorities to address the problem, but from 1 June 2014 to 31 August 2015, the meetings were few. The consequence is that there isn’t a national action plan nor an action group to support the victims of slavery (Milestone 1, 4.2.1).
Also regarding children slavery the question is relevant: it is estimated that, in Europe, at least 10,000 children registered as refugees and which are untraceable. Of these, about half have disappeared while they were in Italy.
This is why, in this dark landscape, Italy occupies a prominent position between Guatemala and Malaysia, and the situation detected by the researchers appears to be even worse than that of most of the Third World countries. A bad result if we consider that above the threshold of 100 thousand slaves, after Italy, were ranked countries such as Niger, Somalia, Malawi, Mali, Zambia, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Ghana.
And considering that the number of migrants picked in the Mediterranean or arrived in Italy is growing up, the problem will surely increase.