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Sunday, December 10, 2023

50 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery


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One out of every 150 people in the world is trapped in modern slavery. This is according to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), Walk Free and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

You speak of modern slavery when someone is forced to work in inhumane situations, while they receive little or no pay for this. Modern slavery includes, for example, sexual exploitation, child labour, human trafficking and forced labour.

Modern slavery is not a slaver who “legally owns” someone, but an employer who exerts pressure in certain ways so that an employee has no choice but to keep working. This can be done, for example, by threatening violence or confiscating someone’s passport, so that the person is unable to leave the country.

In 2021, some 50 million people were victims of modern slavery. Of this group, 28 million people were in forced labour and 22 million in forced marriage. According to the ILO, the number of people trapped in modern slavery has increased significantly over the past five years. In 2016 there were still 40 million people. Women and children in particular remain disproportionately vulnerable.

Another shocking conclusion is that modern slavery exists in almost every country in the world. More than half (52 per cent) of all forced labour and marriages take place in middle- and high-income countries.

Most cases of forced labour (86 per cent) take place in the private sector. 23 per cent of these concerns commercial sexual exploitation, with women or girls in 4 out of 5 cases.

Nearly one in eight cases of forced labour involves children. In total, about 3.3 million children live in forced labour. More than half of this group is trapped in commercial sexual exploitation.

Migrant workers in particular are vulnerable to ending up in forced labour or human trafficking. Migrant workers are three times more likely to be entangled in forced labour than adult workers who are not migrants.

In the past five years, 6.6 million people have ended up in forced marriage. Last year, it is estimated that some 22 million people worldwide were in forced marriage. In reality, according to the ILO, the number of forced (child) marriages is probably much higher than current estimates can comprehend.

“It is shocking that the situation of modern slavery is not improving. There is nothing that can justify the continued existence of this fundamental violation of human rights,” said Guy Ryder, director of the ILO. “We know what needs to be done and we know it can be done. ” He says effective national policies and regulations are fundamental to countering modern slavery. “But governments cannot do this alone.” According to him, international regulations, trade unions, employers’ organisations, society and ‘ordinary people’ also play a crucial role.

In the report, the organizations propose a number of measures that would represent “progress towards an end to modern slavery”. For example, laws and labor inspectorates need to be improved and enforced, and stronger measures to combat forced labour. In addition, the organizations advocate raising the legal age of marriage to 18 years, without exceptions. Women, girls and vulnerable people also need better support.

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