UPDATE 2-Almost 46 mln people trapped in slavery with North Korea, India key offenders - global index
(Adds more quotes from Russell Crowe)
By Alex Whiting
LONDON, May 31 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Almost 46 million people are living as slaves globally with the greatest number in India but the highest prevalence in North Korea, according to the third Global Slavery Index launched on Tuesday with Australian actor Russell Crowe.
The index, by Australia-based human rights group Walk Free Foundation, increased its estimate of people born into servitude, trafficked for sex work, or trapped in debt bondage or forced labour to 45.8 million from 35.8 million in 2014.
Andrew Forrest, founder of Walk Free, said the rise of nearly 30 percent was due to better data collection, although he feared the situation was getting worse with global displacement and migration increasing vulnerability to all forms of slavery.
Forrest, an Australian mining billionaire and philanthropist, urged businesses to check their supply chains for worker exploitation, saying he found thousands of people trapped in slavery making goods for his company Fortescue Metals Group.
"But I've had some of some biggest entrepreneurs in the world look me in the eye and say I will not look for slavery in case I find it," he said at the launch of the index in London.
Crowe, who played Roman general-turned-slave Maximus in the 2000 movie "Gladiator", described the plight of people "in our communities who are stuck, utterly helpless and trapped in a cycle of despair and degradation with no choice and no hope."
"As an actor, my role is often to portray raw human emotion, but nothing compares with the people's lives reflected in the report published today," he said. Continuación...