Fifty million people worldwide are estimated to be locked in modern slavery on any given day – a number that has increased by a fifth in recent years, according to a report by two UN agencies and an anti-slavery NGO.
The report by the International Labour Organization, the International Organization for Migration, and Walk Free says that an estimated 27.6 million people are enduring forced labour, while about 22 million people are trapped in forced marriages.
The report defines modern enslavement as a situation when people “cannot refuse or cannot leave because of threats, violence, deception, abuse of power or other forms of coercion”. Migrants are particularly vulnerable to forced labour, while women and children are disproportionately affected by abuse and exploitation, the report’s authors say.
While the UN is seeking to stamp out modern slavery by 2030, the report’s conclusion that 10 million more people have been trapped in forced labour or forced marriage between 2016 and 2021 suggests the crisis is only deepening. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, armed conflicts, and climate change are some of the factors driving slavery today. The situation is now so acute that one of every 150 people are trapped in forced labour or forced marriage, in what is a largely hidden global emergency.
In this episode of The Stream we’ll examine why modern slavery is on the rise and ask what can be done to eradicate it.