Over 35 million trapped in slavery

At least 35.8 million people around the world are enslaved according to the 2014 Global Slavery Index.

"It marks at 20 percent increase over last year," said Gina Dafalia of the Walk Free Foundation.

The report released by the Perth, Australia based Walk Free Foundation says that India is by far the leader in the number of human trapped in some form of slavery.  The report says 14.2 million people in India are trapped in some form of slavery.  When the India count is combined with neighbor Pakistan, who is third overall, they account for 45% of the world's enslaved population.

The report shows that the caste system, which is illegal in India, is still very much in effect among the population.  Almost all of those enslaved are in lower castes.  While not the focus of the report, sexual slavery is also rampant in many nations.

"There are reports of women and children from India being recruited with promises of non-existent jobs and later sold for sexual exploitation, or forced into sham marriages. In some religious groups, pre-pubescent girls are sold for sexual servitude in temples. Recent reports suggest that one child goes missing every eight minutes; it is feared that some are sold into forced begging, domestic work, and commercial sexual exploitation," the report states.

“There is an assumption that slavery is an issue from a bygone era. Or that it only exists in countries ravaged by war and poverty. These findings show that modern slavery exists in every country," said Andrew Forrest, chairman of the Walk Free Foundation.  "We are all responsible for the most appalling situations where modern slavery exists and the desperate misery it brings upon our fellow human beings. The first step in eradicating slavery is to measure it. And with that critical information, we must all come together – governments, businesses and civil society – to finally bring an end to the most severe form of exploitation."

The survey's definition of slavery included forced labor, families selling children into slavery or forced marriages.

The nations with the highest totals of slaves were India, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Russia.  The lowest, New Zealand, Barbados, Ireland, Luxembourg and Iceland.

The study also ranked government response to human trafficking for the first time.  The best nations in the world for responding to the crime and assistance for victims were Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, Australia and Switzerland.

The United States ranked 145th out of 167 countries in the index with an estimated 60,100 people in slavery.