There were 40.3 million people around the world living in slavery in 2016 — including 400,000 in the U.S., according to estimates in the 2018 Global Slavery Index that was presented at the United Nations by the Walk Free Foundation, a global organization combatting modern slavery.

Expand chart
Data: Free Walk Foundation; Map: Kerrie Vila /Axios

Why it matters: The U.S. is also the top importer of items that are likely to have been products of slave labor in other countries. Andrew Forrest, founder of the Walk Free Foundation, told Axios that even places with comparatively fewer instances of modern slavery should be doing more and "are actually allowing slavery to exist."

The data on modern slavery includes situations of forced labor or forced marriage, but does not account for organ trafficking or the recruitment of child soldiers.

Between the lines: While conducting interviews with more than 71,000 people, Walk Free Foundation's researchers counted cases of slavery in the country where they were enslaved instead of their current residence. This led to much higher estimates in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France and other European nations compared to previous reports.

  • For example: In 2014, it was estimated there were 60,000 people in modern slavery in the U.S. on any given day. In 2016, that number was 400,000.

What to watch: Ivanka Trump has taken a personal interest in eradicating modern slavery, Forrest said, and spoke at the United Nations on the topic last year. Forrest hopes the report will convince President Trump to introduce a Modern Slavery Act, similar to what was passed in the U.K. in 2015.

  • It requires all businesses to publicly disclose what they are doing to stop the use of slave labor in their business and by their suppliers.
We’d be hard pressed to go to the supermarket to find a tin of tuna or to buy clothes the we felt assured weren’t cut by the hands of those in modern slavery. 
— Fiona David, an author of the report, to Axios

By the numbers:

  • In 2016, the U.S. imported $144 billion worth of at-risk products, according to the report.
  • 89 million people over the past 5 years have experienced modern-day slavery at least temporarily.
  • 71% of victims are women.
  • 15.4 million people were in forced marriages in 2016.
  • G20 countries imported $200 billion dollars worth of electronics such as laptops or cellphones that are at a high risk of having been crafted by slave labor.
  • Only 7 of the G20 nations have taken steps to combat modern slavery.
  • Slavery is most prevalent in Africa, followed by Asian and the Pacific regions.
  • North Korea has the most instances of slavery, followed by Eritrea, Burundi, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan.
  • But, but, but: These estimates are still considered conservative, according to the study, as there are significant gaps in the data, particularly for Arab States.

Go deeper

Updated 9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 30,873,714 — Total deaths: 958,383— Total recoveries: 21,103,559Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 6,788,343 — Total deaths: 199,421 — Total recoveries: 2,577,446 — Total tests: 94,211,463Map.
  3. Politics: Testing czar on Trump's CDC contradictions: "Everybody is right" Ex-FDA chief: Career scientists won't be "easily cowed" by political vaccine pressure
  4. Education: What we overlooked in the switch to remote learning
  5. Health: The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19.
  6. World: England sets £10,000 fine for breaking self-isolation rules — The countries painting their pandemic recoveries green.

Biden to Senate GOP after RBG passing: "Please follow your conscience"

Joe Biden made a direct appeal to Senate Republicans in a speech addressing the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, urging them to "cool the flames that have been engulfing our country" by waiting to confirm her replacement until after the election.

The state of play: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said soon after the news of Ginsburg's death that President Trump's nominee would get a vote on the Senate floor.

Leaked Treasury documents reveal how dirty money moves through global banking system

Photo: Eduardo Parra/Europa Press via Getty Images

Thousands of leaked government documents covering at least $2 trillion worth of transactions reveal how some of the world's biggest banks knowingly moved around the money of oligarchs, terrorists and criminals, with few consequences, according to a massive investigation by BuzzFeed News, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and hundreds of other news organizations.

The big picture: The investigation, published on Sunday, examines more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by banks and other financial firms with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN.