DOHA: Qatar has received a relatively low ranking in the first Global Slavery Index, released by the Walk Free Foundation on Wednesday.
Of 162 countries in the 2013 Index, Qatar ranked 96 globally and ninth in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.
The Global Slavery Index 2013 provides a ranking of 162 countries, based on three factors: estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population, a measure of child marriage, and a measure of human trafficking in and out of a country. A high ranking indicates a more severely concentrated modern slavery situation.
Qatar ranked below three other Gulf countries — Saudi Arabia (82), the UAE (88), Bahrain (96) and above Oman (11) and Kuwait (12).
In the Mena region, Sudan (22) topped the list, with Libya (78) and Saudi coming second and third. Iran (103) ranked just below Kuwait and Tunisia (122) came last in the list.
It is estimated that 2.54 per cent of about 29.8 million people in modern slavery are in the Mena region. The risks of enslavement in the region are not the highest in the world, but the level of risk is relatively high across the region with little variation, according to the report.
“Trafficking of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia is widespread. Globally, this region has the highest measured level of discrimination against women. One result is the high level of forced and child marriages within the region, as well as the widespread exploitation of trafficked women in forced prostitution and as domestic workers,” the report said.
Rapid political change following the Arab Spring calls into question continuing political commitment to implementation of anti-slavery policies in a number of key countries. In recent years, several countries, including Egypt, Syria and Morocco, have passed laws on the issue but due to ongoing conflict and social unrest the laws are not being effectively enforced, it added.
A number of Middle Eastern countries host large numbers of migrant workers. On average, foreign workers make up 40 to 90 per cent of the populations of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the UAE and Kuwait, the report said.
“Not all migrants are enslaved, but some will find themselves in situations that can foster enslavement.
“In 2013, modern slavery takes many forms, and is known by many names. Whether it is called human trafficking, forced labour, slavery or slavery-like practices (a category that includes debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, sale or exploitation of children including in armed conflict) victims of modern slavery have their freedom denied, and are used and controlled and exploited by another person for profit, sex, or the thrill of domination,” it said.
The countries with the highest numbers of enslaved people are India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Taken together, they account for 76 percent of the total estimate of 29.8 million in modern slavery, according to the report.