“One in every 150 people are trapped in modern slavery,” ILO

September 17, 2022

September 12, 2022

“Fifty million people were living in modern slavery in 2021,” according to the latest ILO report on Global Estimates of Modern Slavery. “Of these people, 28 million were in forced labor and 22 million were trapped in forced marriage.”

One in every 150 people are trapped in modern slavery

“The number of people in modern slavery has risen significantly in the last five years. 10 million more people were in modern slavery in 2021 compared to 2016 global estimates.

“Women and children remain disproportionately vulnerable.

“Modern slavery occurs in almost every country in the world, and cuts across ethnic, cultural and religious lines. More than half (52%) of all forced labour and a quarter of all forced marriages can be found in upper-middle income or high-income countries.

Forced labour

“Most cases of forced labour (86 per cent) are found in the private sector.

“Forced labour in sectors other than commercial sexual exploitation accounts for 63% of all forced labour; while forced commercial sexual exploitation represents 23% of all forced labor.

“Almost four out of five of those in forced commercial sexual exploitation are women or girls.

“State-imposed forced labour accounts for 14% of people in forced labor.

Child labor

“Almost one in eight of all those in forced labor are children (3.3 million). More than half of these are in commercial sexual exploitation.

Forced marriage

“An estimated 22 million people were living in forced marriage on any given day in 2021. This indicates an increase of 6.6 million since the 2016 global estimates.

“The true incidence of forced marriage, 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 all child marriages.

“Child marriages are considered to be forced 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%) of forced marriages are found in Asia and the Pacific, when regional population size is considered, the prevalence is highest in the Arab States, with 4.8 people out of every 1,000 in the region in forced marriage.

Ending modern slavery

“It is shocking that the situation of modern slavery is not improving,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

“The report proposes a number of recommended actions which, taken together and swiftly, would mark significant progress towards ending modern slavery. They include: improving and enforcing laws and labour inspections; ending state-imposed forced labor; stronger measures to combat forced labour and trafficking in business and supply chains; extending social protection, and strengthening legal protections, including raising the legal age of marriage to 18 without exception. Other measures include addressing the increased risk of trafficking and forced labour for migrant workers, promoting fair and ethical recruitment, and greater support for women, girls and vulnerable individuals.

“Modern slavery, as defined in the ILO report, is comprised of two principal components – forced labour and forced marriage. Both refer to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or cannot leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, or abuse of power. Forced labor, as defined in the ILO Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No 29), refers to “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily. The private economy includes all forms of forced labor other than state-imposed forced labour.”