Slavery continues to be a scourge that significantly affects humanity, specifically fifty million people, according to the latest global estimates presented this Monday by the International Labor Organization (ILO). However, the figure does not answer only the labor problem. In fact, the UN agency estimates that 28 million of them are victims of forced labor, while the remaining 22 million are trapped in forced marriages.
The significant number has increased over the years. There are even ten million more people compared to 2016 global estimates, cutting across ethnic, cultural and religious lines. In addition, the ILO claims that 52% of all forced labor and a quarter of all forced marriages originate in upper-middle or high-income countries.
Who are most affected by forced labor?
According to the UN agency, 86% of the world’s cases of forced labor are found within the private economy, while the remaining 14% originate at the state level. But gender inequality is also present in this phenomenon, as the total number of women and girls in situations of forced occupation rises to 11.8 million, while the number of children is more than 3.3 million.
On the other hand, migrants are three times more vulnerable to forced labor than their non-migrant counterparts, either due to illegal migration or unfair and unethical employment practices.
Incidentally, Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO, stated that “effective national policies and regulations are essential. But governments cannot do it alone. International standards provide a solid foundation and a multi-stakeholder approach is needed. Trade unions, business organisations, civil society and ordinary citizens have a crucial role to play.”
For his part, Antonio Vitorino, Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), explained that “reducing the vulnerability of migrants to forced labor and human trafficking depends above all on political and legal frameworks that respect, protect and fulfill the rights of the human and fundamental freedoms of all migrants – and potential migrants – at all stages of the migration process, regardless of their migrant status’.
Nothing can justify the continuation of this basic abuse of human rights.
— Guy Ryder (@GuyRyder) September 12, 2022
a high number
However, current estimates of forced marriages show that the number has risen by more than six million, reaching a total of 22 million. However, the agency is not entirely sure that this is the total number, as they are based on a narrow definition that “is closely related to deep-rooted patriarchal attitudes and is highly context-dependent.” In fact, the ILO states that more than 85% were driven by family pressure.
Similarly, the agency’s study claims that 65% of forced marriages take place in Asia and the Pacific, but when regional population size is taken into account, the highest prevalence of forced unions is found in Arab countries, with 4, 8 people per 1000.
How to end modern slavery?
Faced with this situation, the International Labor Organization proposed a series of measures to end modern slavery. These include improving and enforcing laws and labor inspections, ending state-imposed forced labor, and strengthening regulations to combat it and human trafficking.
Likewise, social protection must be expanded and legal protection strengthened, including raising the legal age of marriage to 18 without exception, addressing the increased risk of trafficking and forced labor for migrants, promoting fair and ethical and, of course, promoting more – great support for women, girls and vulnerable people. @worldwide