Modern-day slavery is commonplace in North Korea and other repressive regimes, however, developed nations, too, share responsibility for it primarily because they import $350 billion worth of goods that are formulated under suspicious conditions, according to a report discharged Thursday.
The Global Slavery Index estimates 40.3 million people globally endured modern slavery in 2016, with the highest concentration in North Korea, where 1 in 10 people lived under such fates.
“This index makes us visible,” says Yeon-mi Park, a North Korean defector who fled to China where she was trafficked and forced into marriage.
“Over 40 million people. . . . They are not numbers. It could be anyone. It was me. It was my mother. It was my sister,” she said. “Even now, there are 300,000 North Korean defectors in China, and 90 percent of them are being trafficked. They are being sold by Chinese men for a few hundred dollars.” Park spoke at a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York.
“These people simply were born in the wrong place, and that’s why they’re being punished for — their birthplace,” continued Park, who has spearheaded a group to assist North Korean trafficking victims.
The report was collated by the Walk Free Foundation, an anti-slavery campaign formed by Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest, who commented at the New York press conference that “for the first time there is real hope we can end modern slavery.”
“By unraveling the trade flows and focusing on products at risk of modern slavery that are imported by the top economies, it becomes clear that even the wealthiest countries have a clear and immediate responsibility for responding to modern slavery both domestically and beyond their borders,” the report claims.
“Developed economies are exposed to the risk of modern slavery not only when this crime is perpetrated within their national borders, but also when that risk is effectively transferred to them via the products they import.”