Modern slavery in the DRC

Question

What does the literature tell us about modern slavery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (including, if available, information on the prevalence of modern slavery in the DRC, the most prevalent forms, the people most at risk and in what ways)?

Summary

‘Modern slavery’ encompasses a variety of situations in which one person is forcibly controlled by one or more others for the purpose of exploitation (Cockayne, 2015). ‘Forced or compulsory labour’ is defined by the ILO Forced Labour Convention as ‘all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily’. The means of coercion by the exploiter can be overt and observable (e.g. armed guards who prevent workers from leaving) or subtle and not immediately observable (e.g. confiscation of identity papers) (ILO, 2012). The ILO estimates that 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour globally, for the period 2002-2011 (ILO, 2012). The Global Slavery Index estimates for 2016 that there are 45.8 million people in some form of modern slavery. In the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Global Slavery Index (GSI) 2016 reports that the estimated number of people living in modern slavery is 873,100 (rank 9 of 167 countries). This amounts to an estimated proportion in slavery of 1.130 percent (rank 6 of 167 countries). These estimates of prevalence are derived from a 2010 survey, published in JAMA, focused on sexual violence and other human rights violations in the conflict-affected North and South Kivu provinces and in Ituri. Drawing from this representative sample, ratios were adjusted to other parts of the country to reflect lower levels of conflict, in addition to any other necessary adjustments (K.B., expert comments).

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Suggested citation

Haider, H. (2017). Modern slavery in the DRC. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.