In a shocking report, it was revealed that the developed countries actually have high rate of slavery. Yeonmi Park calls herself a former slave from North Korea. She had never seen a world map and nearly starved to death.
She saw human bodies piled outside a hospital, their eyes eaten by rats, after she underwent an appendix surgery without anesthesia at age 13.
She was convinced that she would die in North Korea, but, she and her mother took a chance and fled to China, where human traffickers sold her for $200. Couple of years later, she escaped and found refuge in South Korea, to this day she has no idea what happened to her relatives in North Korea.
“The scariest thing for me that night crossing the desert,” she said, “was being forgotten. No one knows that I existed in this world.”
Now, a student at Columbia University in New York, she recalled her struggle at a news conference held at the UN to publicize a new survey about modern slavery – a broad term used by rights activists that includes forced labor, forced marriage and sexual exploitation.
The survey, known as the Global Slavery Index, began five years ago by an Australia-based rights group called the Walk Free Foundation. The survey studied thousands of interviews and other research, the index measures the extent of modern slavery and the steps taken to combat it, country by country.
The 2018 edition of the index estimates that more than 40 million people around the world are trapped in modern slavery — including what Walk Free called a surprisingly high number in developed nations like the United States, France, Germany and others.
“Given these are also the countries taking the most action to respond to modern slavery, this does not mean these initiatives are in vain,” the survey said.
“It does, however, underscore that even in countries with seemingly strong laws and systems, there are critical gaps in protections for groups such as irregular migrants, the homeless, workers in the shadow or gig economy, and certain minorities.”
In the US, over 400,000 people, or one in 800, are living in modern slavery, according to the report. The US is also the largest importer of what the report called “at-risk” products, or those at least partly manufactured by workers engaged in forced labor.
These products, estimated to be worth at least $354 billion, include mobile phones, computers, clothing and food like fish and cocoa, the report said. The United States imports more than 40 percent of the total.