40 million slaves in the world, new report finds

More than 40 million people were estimated to be victims of modern slavery in 2016, and one in four of those were children.

Those are the findings of a new report., called The 2017 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, produced by the International Labor Organization (ILO), a U.N. agency focusing on labor rights, and the Walk Free Foundation, an international NGO working to end modern slavery. It marks the first time the two organizations have collaborated to produce worldwide slavery figures.

The report estimates that last year 25 million people were in forced labor — made to work under threat or coercion — and 15 million people were in forced marriage.

However, it is impossible to know exactly how many people are living in modern slavery, and different studies have produced different estimates. One reason is that modern slavery is a hidden crime that is difficult to identify. Another is that different studies use different definitions of slavery, with some including forced marriage, for example, and others not.

The new report defines modern slavery as situations of exploitation that a person can’t refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion or deception, which includes forced labor, debt bondage, forced marriage and human trafficking.

According to the report, women and girls accounted for 71 percent of slavery victims, including 99 percent of those in the commercial sex industry and 84 percent of victims of forced marriages. Children made up around 37 percent of those forced to marry, as well as 18 percent of forced labor victims and 21 percent of victims of sexual exploitation. An estimated 3.8 million adults and 1 million children were victims of forced sexual exploitation.

An estimated 4.1 million people are victims of forced labor imposed by state authorities. They include people forced to participate in agriculture or construction work to boost economic development, young military conscripts forced to perform non-military work, and prisoners forced to work without consent at private prisons.

The report found that modern slavery was most prevalent in Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific. Forced labor was most prevalent in the Asia and the Pacific region, and forced marriage was most prevalent in Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific.

The ILO simultaneously released another report of its own called The 2017 Global Estimates of Child Labor. It found that there are 152 million children around the world engaged in child labor, and 73 million of them are in work that “directly endangers their health, safety and moral development.” According to the report, 90 percent of all children in child labor are in the Africa and the Asia and the Pacific regions.

The two reports are intended to help toward achieving by 2030 target 8.7 of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, which calls for effective measures to end forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking, as well as child labor in all its forms.

– edited from CNN, September 19, 2017
PeaceMeal, Nov/December 2017

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