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Finding Today's Slaves: Statistics in the Fight Against Modern Slavery


Dr. Ali Arab, representative to the Coalition for the American Statistical Association



  • Speaker
    • Davina Durgana, Senior Research Analyst, Walk Free Foundation
  • Summary
    • Davina spoke on modern slavery including forced marriage as a form of trafficking (e.g., dowry, etc.). She discussed the sector where risk of modern slavery is particularly high (sex workers, construction, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing). It is estimated that currently over 45 million live in modern slavery.
  • Presentation
    • Davina spoke about the need for global estimates of modern slavery and the need for communication with the public (and journalists) on this issue.
    • She discussed the work of the Walk Free Foundation as an umbrella organization that works on developing a global index of slavery where 48 countries are being studied.
    • She also discussed the importance of measuring vulnerability, as well as assessing government response for different countries.
    • She finally closed with remarks on the responsibility of individuals, reminding the audience that as consumers, we are complicit in profiting from modern slavery. So, we should make smart and informed choices. She ended with the positive note that this means that as individuals we have agency and can play a role in defeating modern slavery.
  • Audience Response
    • The Q&A was focused on clarifying notes as well as questions regarding how Davina became involved in this work.


Key Points/Takeaways:

  • Correlation between environmental degradation and trafficking/slavery.
  • Workers in certain sectors are more prone to slavery/forced labor, for example, deep sea fishers are in some cases on fishing ships for several years.
  • Certain communities are more vulnerable to slavery/trafficking. For example, in communities in South Chicago, kids join gangs to protect their families.
  • Not always the poorest of the poor are the victims of modern slavery.
    • For example, Nigerian traffickers in Europe, ongoing refugee crisis, etc.
  • Most vulnerable people are in a position that can’t get protection from slavery.



  • Environment
  • Human Trafficking
  • Vulnerability


Additional Resources: