GENEVA (ILO News) – Fifty million people were living in modern slavery in 2021, according to the latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery . Of these people, 28 million were in forced labour and 22 million were trapped in forced marriage.
The number of people in modern slavery has risen significantly in the last five years. 10 million more people were in modern captivity in 2021 compared to 2016 global estimates. Women and children remain disproportionately vulnerable.
Modern slavery occurs in almost every country in the world, plus cuts across ethnic, cultural and religious lines. More than half (52 per cent) of all forced labour and a quarter of all forced marriages can be found in upper-middle income or high-income countries.
Most cases of forced labour (86 per cent) are found in the private sector. Pushed labour in sectors other than commercial sexual exploitation accounts for 63 for each cent of all forced labour, while forced commercial sexual exploitation represents 23 per cent of all pushed labour. Almost four out of five of those within forced commercial sexual exploitation are women or girls.
State-imposed pressured labour accounts for 14 per cent of individuals in forced labour.
Almost one in eight of all those in forced labour are children (3. 3 million). More than half of these are in commercial sexual exploitation.
An estimated 22 million individuals were living in forced marriage on any given day in 2021. This indicates an increase of 6. 6 mil since the 2016 global estimates.
The true incidence of forced relationship, particularly involving children aged 16 and younger, is likely far greater than current estimates can capture; these are based on a narrow definition and do not include almost all child marriages. Child marriages are considered to be compelled because a child cannot legally give consent to marry.
Forced marriage is closely linked to long-established patriarchal attitudes and practices and is highly context specific. The overwhelming majority of forced marriages (more than 85 per cent) was driven by family pressure. Although two-thirds (65 per cent) of forced relationships are found in Asia and the Pacific, when regional population size is considered, the prevalence will be highest within the Arab States, with 4. 8 people out of every 1, 000 in the region in forced marriage.
Migrants particularly vulnerable to forced labour
Migrant workers are more than three times more likely to be in forced labour than non-migrant adult workers. While labour migration has a largely positive effect on individuals, households, communities and societies, this finding demonstrates how migrants are particularly vulnerable in order to forced labour and trafficking, whether because of irregular or poorly governed immigration, or unfair and unethical recruitment practices.
“It is shocking that the situation of modern slavery is not improving. Nothing can justify the persistence of this fundamental abuse of human rights, ” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder. “We know what needs to be done, and we know it can be done. Effective national policies and regulation are fundamental. But governments cannot do this alone. International standards provide a sound basis, and an all-hands-on-deck approach is needed. Trade unions, employers’ organizations, civil society and ordinary people all have critical roles to play. ”
António Vitorino, IOM Director-General, said: “This report underscores the urgency of ensuring that will all migration is safe, orderly, and regular. Reducing the particular vulnerability of migrants to forced labour and trafficking in persons depends first and foremost on national policy and legal frameworks that respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights and fundamental freedoms associated with all migrants – plus potential migrants – at all stages of the migration process, regardless of their migration status. The whole of society must work together to reverse these shocking trends, including through implementation of the particular Global Compact on Migration. ”
Grace Forrest, Founding Director of Walk Free, stated: “Modern slavery is the antithesis of sustainable development. Yet, in 2022, this continues to underpin our global economy. It is a man-made problem, connected to both historical slavery and persisting structural inequality. In a time of compounding crises, genuine political will is the key to ending these human rights abuses. ”
Ending modern slavery
The particular report proposes a number of recommended actions which, taken together and swiftly, would mark significant progress towards ending modern captivity. They include: improving and enforcing laws and labour inspections; ending state-imposed pushed labour; stronger measures in order to combat forced labour plus trafficking in business and supply chains; extending social protection, and strengthening legal protections, including raising the particular legal age of marriage to 18 without exception. Other measures include addressing the increased risk associated with trafficking and forced work for migrant workers, promoting fair and ethical recruitment, and greater support for women, girls and susceptible individuals.
Notes to editors
Modern slavery, as defined for the report, is comprised of two principal components – pressured labour and forced relationship. Both refer to situations of exploitation that the person cannot refuse or cannot leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, or abuse of power. Forced labour, as defined in the ILO Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) , refers to “all work or service which is usually exacted from any person under the menace associated with any penalty and for which usually the said person has not offered himself voluntarily”. The ‘private economy’ includes just about all forms of forced labour other than state-imposed forced labour.
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