Assessing government progress to eradicating modern slavery

Stella Freitag1

1Minderoo Foundation, ,

No country in the world is exempt from modern slavery. As the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery reveal, globally, there were an estimated 40.3 victims of modern slavery on any given day in 2016.1 Governments play a critical role in developing and implementing the laws, policies, and programs that are needed to prevent and respond to modern slavery. Walk Free has developed a comparative measure of the legal, policy, and programmatic actions that 183 governments are taking to respond to modern slavery. This is based on a conceptual framework – initially developed for the 2014 Global Slavery Index (GSI) – that sets out what constitutes a strong response to modern slavery. The starting point for our conceptual framework is situational crime prevention theory and is based on the understanding that for the crime of modern slavery to occur, there needs to be a vulnerable victim, a motivated offender, and the absence of a capable guardian. Our assessment tracks government progress towards the achievement of five milestones: supporting survivors, criminal justice mechanisms, national and international coordination, addressing risk factors, and supply chains. Our most recent assessment of government responses (2019) shows that although there is a trend toward improvement globally, the pace of change falls far short of what the scale and severity of modern slavery demands.


Stella Freitag is a Research Analyst for Walk Free where she leads on Walk Free’s research work in the Africa region, and contributes to the Global Slavery Index (GSI), including the government responses component of the GSI. Stella has previously worked in social impact and has an academic background in social sciences, with an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Western Australia and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Konstanz, Germany.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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