A girl works as a street vendor on Osh Bazaar one of the largest bazaars in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in September 2021. Child labor remains one of the most acute and insoluble problems in Kyrgyzstan. According to statistics, about 40 percent of children in the country are employed. File Photo by Igor Kovalenko/EPA-EFE
Sept. 12 (BP) — Modern slavery has surged in recent years with 50 million people worldwide forced into labor and marriages, according to a new report published Monday.
The latest estimates show 10 million more people were enslaved in 2021 than in 2016 marking a significant rise in the last five years, according to the report by the International Labour Organization, International Organization for Migration and the human rights group Walk Free.
“This number translates to nearly one of every 150 people in the world,” the report reads.
The estimates showed that, on any given day in 2021, around 28 million people were forced into labor, including sex trafficking, while 22 million were trapped in forced marriage.
The numbers also indicate that entrapment in forced labor can last years, while forced marriage is a life sentence in most cases.
The report found that compounding crises including the COVID-19 pandemic and armed conflict around the world have disrupted opportunities for employment and education which lead to poverty and forced and unsafe migration which together heighten the risk of modern slavery.
The United Nations Children’s Fund has warned that children fleeing the war in Ukraine are at high risk for human trafficking and exploitation.
In 2015, the U.N. General Assembly adopted its Sustainable Development Goals in which the global community committed to ending modern slavery among children by 2025 and universally by 2030.
“This report underscores the scale of the challenge facing the global community in the short period remaining to meet these ambitious targets,” the report reads.
Women and children were unsurprisingly found to be overwhelmingly vulnerable.
The estimates show that 3.3 million of those forced into labor are children with more than half of those in commercial sex exploitation, which in general accounted for about 23% of all forced labor.
Nearly 80% of those sexually exploited are women or girls.
“It is shocking that the situation of modern slavery is not improving. Nothing can justify the persistence of this fundamental abuse of human rights,” Guy Ryder, director-general of ILO said in a statement.
“We know what needs to be done, and we know it can be done. Effective national policies and regulation are fundamental. But governments cannot do this alone. International standards provide a sound basis, and an all-hands-on-deck approach is needed.”
The report found that “no region of the world is spared from forced labor” with 15.1 million enslaved people in Asia and the Pacific, 4.1 million in Europe and Central Asia, 3.8 million in Africa, 3.6 million in the Americas and less than one million in Arab states.
When accounting for slavery as a percentage of the population, Arab nations led the world with 5.3 slaves per thousand people. Europe and Central Asia had 4.4 slaves per thousand people and the Americas and Asia had 3.5 slaves per thousand people. Africa had just 2.9 slaves per thousand people.