Malaysia has 128,800 slaves, survey shows

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is 50th on the Global Slavery Index 2016.

The report, commissioned by the Walk Free Foundation, says more than 128,000 workers in Malaysia are employed in slave-like conditions.

Many are treated like livestock, it says.

The report says 0.4 per cent of Malaysia’s 31 million population are trapped in modern slavery. Across the world, almost 46 million people are slaves.

“[Modern] slavery refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception, with treatment akin to a farm animal.

“For example, their passport might be taken away if they are in a foreign country, they may experience or be threatened with violence or their family might be threatened,” says the Walk Free Foundation.

According to a report in the Malay Mail Online, in the region, Malaysia is behind Singapore (130th, 9,200 people) in the number of workers considered to be modern day slaves, but ahead of Vietnam (47th, 139,300), the Philippines (19th, 401,000), Thailand (16th, 425,000) and Indonesia (10th, 736,100).

The country with the most enslaved workers is India, with over 18 million, followed by China (3.3 million) and Pakistan (2.1 million). Luxembourg has the fewest at 100.

The report says Malaysia is rated “CCC” in terms of government action to modern-day slavery. This means the government offers “limited response” as well as “limited support” for victims.

The 10-tier ranking ranges from “AAA”, the best, to D, the worst.

According to the report, the majority of modern-day slaves in Malaysia are women and young girls who migrated to work as domestic helpers.

The 2016 index was based on over 42,000 interviews by pollster Gallup in 25 countries in 53 languages.