40 million people victims of modern slavery

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New research reveals that more than 40 million people, primarily women and children, were victims of modern slavery in 2016.

A new report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), together with the Walk Free Foundation and the International Organization for Migration, found that there are some 40 million victims of modern slavery.

Children make up 25 percent of all modern slaves, and almost 100 percent of the 4.8 million people forced into sexual labor are women. Approximately one third of children aged 5 to 14 engaged in child labour are outside the education system. One in four victims of modern slavery are children, or about 10 million children.

These include human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, sex trafficking, forced marriage and other slave-like exploitation.

Children represented 18 per cent of those subjected to forced labour exploitation and 7 per cent of people forced to work by state authorities.

The 2017 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery are presented as a contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular to Target 8.7, which calls for effective measures to end forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking, as well as child labour in all its forms.

Andrew Forrest, founder of the The Walk Free Foundation, said: "We all have a role to play in changing this reality - business, government, civil society, every one of us".

"Ending forced marriage is critical to advancing and promoting the rights of women and girls, and hence in ending slavery".

The YENA conference will bring together senior government, employer and worker representatives from seven African countries: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia, as well as development partners to agree on a new "Roadmap for Youth Employment in North Africa" for the next five years. Children who were in commercial sexual exploitation (where the victim is a child, there is no requirement of force) represented 21 per cent of total victims in this category of abuse. When taking into account that "only 63,000 victims of slavery were reported to the authorities a year ago", David added, "the gulf between the problem and the insufficient global response becomes very clear".

The estimate compared with a 2016 Walk Free finding that 45.8 million people were slaves and an ILO figure of 21 million in forced labor, but both the ILO and Walk Free cautioned the latest number can not be compared with earlier figures to show progress or failure in anti-slavery efforts. It sets worldwide labour standards, promotes rights at work and encourages decent employment opportunities, the enhancement of social protection and the strengthening of dialogue on work-related issues.

Slavery and forced marriages were most prominent in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.

But Houtan Homayounpour, a specialist on forced labour at the ILO, cautioned the newer numbers can not be used to show progress or failure in anti-slavery efforts.

Debt bondage accounted for almost half of those forced into labor, while almost 4 million people were forced to work by state authorities. Thirty-eight percent of children in hazardous work aged 5 to 14 and nearly two-thirds of those aged 15 to 17 work more than 43 hours per week. The Foundation provides the information and capabilities required for countries to fight slavery in their jurisdictions.

Researchers hope to compel world leaders to take the issue more seriously by using a new methodology that incorporates a large amount of new data from sources such as the International Organization for Migration and that combines the work of Walk Free and the ILO.

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