Slavery is not a crime in many countries worldwide, according to a study of global laws released on Wednesday. Researchers are now urging countries to close legal loopholes that allow abusers to escape prosecution.
Many places lack laws that directly criminalize and punish exerting control over or owning another person, according to the Antislavery in Domestic Legislation database. The database was created by the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Although many places have discarded laws that actively allow slavery, 94 countries have no laws against slavery and nearly two-thirds have no laws against the four main practices associated with slavery — serfdom, debt bondage, forced marriage, and child trafficking, except in the context of human trafficking. Those 94 countries make up nearly half of U.N. states.
"Slavery is far from being illegal everywhere, and we hope our research will move the conversation beyond this popular myth," said Katarina Schwarz, a researcher at the lab which led work on the database. "It will surprise many people to learn that in all of these countries there are no criminal laws in place to prosecute, convict, and punish people for subjecting people to the most extreme forms of exploitation."
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