Modern slavery is a growing challenge thanks to a mix of armed conflict, climate change and the global pandemic, a new UN report says.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates suggest that 50 million people – or one out of every 150 people alive – are trapped in forced labour or forced marriages.
That is up nearly 10 million on its numbers from five years ago.
The ILO said the fact things were getting worse was “shocking”.
“Nothing can justify the persistence of this fundamental abuse of human rights,” said its director general, Guy Ryder.
“We know what needs to be done… an all-hands-on-deck approach is needed. Trade unions, employers’ organizations, civil society and ordinary people all have critical roles to play.”
The UN’s labour organisation is keen to stress that slavery is not confined to poor countries far away from the Western world – more than half of all forced labour happens in wealthier countries in the upper-middle or high-income bracket.
And it counts both forced labour and forced marriage as modern enslavement – both situations where the person cannot leave “because of threats, violence, deception, abuse of power or other forms of coercion”.
“Entrapment in forced labour can last years, while in most cases forced marriage is a life sentence,” the report says.
About 27.6 million people are in forced labour, including 3.3 million children. Of those children, more than half are in commercial sexual exploitation.
Another 22 million people are in forced marriages – more than two-thirds of them women – and many victims are under 15 when the marriage takes place. —BBC