Geneva – Fifty million people lived in modern slavery in 2021, according to the latest global estimates of modern slavery. Of these people, 28 million were in forced labor and 22 million were trapped in forced marriages.
The number of people in a situation of modern slavery has increased significantly over the past five years. There were 10 million more people in modern slavery in 2021 compared to global estimates in 2016. Women and children remain disproportionately vulnerable.
Modern slavery occurs in almost every country in the world and crosses ethnic, cultural and religious boundaries. More than half (52%) of all forced labor and a quarter of all forced marriages are in upper-middle or high-income countries.
Most cases of forced labor (86%) are in the private sector. Forced labor in sectors other than commercial sexual exploitation accounted for 63% of all forced labor, while forced commercial sexual exploitation accounted for 23% of all forced labor. Nearly four out of five people subjected to violent commercial sexual exploitation are women or girls.
State-imposed forced labor accounts for 14% of people subjected to forced labor.
Nearly one in eight people in forced labor are children (3.3 million). More than half of them are in a situation of commercial sexual exploitation.
An estimated 22 million people were living in forced marriage on any given day in 2021. This represents an increase of 6.6 million from 2016 global estimates.
The true incidence of forced marriages, especially those involving children under the age of 16, is likely much higher than current estimates can capture; as they are based on a narrow definition and do not include all child marriages. Child marriages are considered forced because the child cannot legally consent to the marriage.
Forced marriage is closely related to deep-rooted patriarchal attitudes and practices and is highly context-dependent. The overwhelming majority of forced marriages (over 85%) were driven by family pressure. Although two-thirds (65%) of forced marriages take place in Asia and the Pacific, given the size of the regional population, the prevalence is higher in Arab countries, with 4.8 people per 1,000 in the region being in a forced marriage situation.
Migrants are particularly vulnerable to forced labour
Migrant workers are more than three times more likely to be in forced labor than older non-migrant workers. Although labor migration has generally positive effects on individuals, households, communities and societies, this finding shows how migrants are particularly vulnerable to forced labor and human trafficking, whether through irregular or poorly managed migration, or through unfair and unethical practices for hire.
“It is scandalous that the state of modern slavery is not improving. Nothing can justify the continuation 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 regulations are essential. But governments cannot do it alone. International standards provide a strong foundation and a comprehensive approach is needed. countries Trade unions, business organizations, civil society and ordinary citizens play a major role’.
Antonio Vitorino, IOM Director-General, added: “This report highlights the urgent need to ensure that all migration is safe, orderly and regular. Reducing migrants’ vulnerability to forced labor and human trafficking depends above all on national policy and legal frameworks that respect, protect and fulfill the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants – and potential migrants – at all stages of the migration process, regardless from their migrant status. must work together to reverse these shocking trends, including through the implementation of a Global Compact on Migration.”
Grace Forrest, founding director of Walk Free, said: “Modern slavery is the antithesis of sustainable development. However, in 2022 it continues to underpin our global economy. This is a man-made problem, linked both to historical slavery and persistent structural inequality. At a time of deepening crises, real political will is the key to ending these human rights abuses.”
End modern slavery
The report offers a series of recommended actions that, taken together and quickly, would go a long way towards ending modern slavery. These include: improving and enforcing labor legislation and inspections; to end state-imposed forced labor; strengthening measures to combat forced labor and human trafficking in businesses and supply chains; extending social protection and strengthening legal protection, including raising the legal age of marriage to 18 without exception. Other measures include addressing the increased risk of trafficking and forced labor for migrant workers, promoting fair and ethical recruitment and increased support for women, girls and vulnerable people.
Notes to the editors
Modern slavery, as defined in the report, consists of two main components: forced labor and forced marriage. Both refer to exploitative situations that a person cannot refuse or cannot leave because of threats, violence, coercion, fraud or abuse of power. Forced labour, as defined in the ILO Forced Labor Convention, 1930 (No. 29), refers to “any work or service which is required of any person under threat of any penalty and for which that person does not voluntarily. “Private economy” includes all forms of forced labor other than forced labor imposed by the state.
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