UNITED NATIONS – Yeonmi Park is the name of a former slave from North Korea. She had never seen a world map. She almost starved to death. After having undergone an appendectomy at the age of 13 without anesthesia, Ms. Park recalled seeing human bodies piled up in front of the hospital, her eyes eaten by rats.
Convinced that she would die in North Korea, Ms. Park's mother fled to China, where traffickers sold her for $ 200. Two years later, after escaping through the Gobi Desert to Mongolia, Ms. Park found refuge in South Korea. She has no idea what happened to her North Korean relatives, Ms. Park said.
Woman. Park, 24, now a student at Columbia University in New York, recalled Thursday a news conference at the United Nations to publish a new survey on modern slavery – a broad term used by human rights activists, including forced labor, forced marriages and sexual exploitation
The poll, known as the Global Slavery Index, was launched five years ago by an Australian legal group called the Walk Free Foundation. Based on thousands of interviews and other research, the Index measures the extent of modern slavery and the steps taken to fight it, country by country.
The issue of the 2018 Index estimates that more than 40 million people in the world are trapped in modern slavery – including what Walk Free called a surprising number in developed nations such as the United States, France, Germany and others ,
"Given these are also the countries that take the most measures to respond to modern slavery These initiatives are in vain," says the survey. "It underlines, however, that even in countries with seemingly strong laws and systems, there are critical vulnerabilities for groups such as irregular migrants, the homeless, workers in the shadow or economic sectors and certain minorities."
More than 400,000 people live in the United States, or one in 800, in modern slavery, according to the report. The United States is also the largest importer of what the report called "vulnerable" products, or at least in part, of forced labor workers.
These products, which are valued at least $ 354 billion, are mobile phones, computers, clothing and food such as fish and cocoa, the report said. The United States imports more than 40 percent of the total
"Modern slavery is a First World problem," said Andrew Forrest, an Australian businessman and co-founder of the Walk Free Foundation. "If you are a manager or an investor and you are not ready to take human rights into account now, you do not deserve to be a senior employee or an investor."
The survey identified North Korea as the highest prevalence of modern slavery. Of its 25 million inhabitants, about one in ten is classified as a modern slave. The North Korean state is forcing many children and adults to work in the "municipal work" without pay in agriculture, construction and road construction.
Eritrea, the isolated African nation which until recently had been at war The neighboring Ethiopia, has the second highest prevalence of modern slavery, according to the survey. Others with high rates are Burundi, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan.
Ms. Park, who cried as she reported on her own escape, called the survey "a significant step" to publicize the problem.
"These people were simply born in the wrong place and they are punished for that – their birthplace," she said.