'They Produced the Food We Eat': Over 40 Million Ensnared by Slavery Globally

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Handcuffed - Sputnik International
A new study has found over 40 million people worldwide were victims of modern slavery in 2016, and 152 million individuals aged 5-17 work in child labor.

Research, issued jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO), and Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration, has revealed the true scale of modern slavery around the world.

​The data shows that over 40 million people around the world were victims of modern slavery in 2016, and around 152 million juveniles, aged 5-17, were subject to child labor. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, accounting for almost 29 million of the total, or 71 percent.

One in four victims of modern slavery are children, or about 10 million children, and some 37 percent (or 5.7 million) of those forced to marry were children. Women also represent 99 percent of the victims of forced labor in the commercial sex industry and 84 percent of forced marriages. 

​"The fact as a society we still have 40 million people in modern slavery on any given day shames us all. If we consider the results of the last five years, for which we have collected data, 89 million people experienced some form of modern slavery for periods of time ranging from a few days to five years. This speaks to the deep seated discrimination and inequalities in our world today, coupled with a shocking tolerance of exploitation. This has to stop. We all have a role to play in changing this reality — business, government, civil society, every one of us," said Andrew Forrest, Chair and Founder of the Walk Free Foundation.

An estimated 25 million were in forced labor at any moment in time in 2016 — out of them, 16 million were in forced labor exploitation in the private sector such as domestic work, construction and agriculture, about five million were in forced sexual exploitation, and just over four million (or 16 percent) were in forced labor imposed by state authorities.

​An estimated 15.4 million were also living in forced marriages in 2016 — of this total, 6.5 million were wed in the period 2012-2016.

More than one third of all victims were children at the time of the marriage, and almost all child victims were girls. In all, 152 million children (64 million girls and 88 million boys) are subject to child labor, accounting for almost one in ten children around the world.

The highest number of children, aged 5-17, and engaged in child labor, live in Africa (72.1 million), followed by Asia and the Pacific (62 million), the Americas (10.7 million), Europe and Central Asia (5.5 million) and Middle East (1.2 million). Approximately one third of children, aged 5-14, and engaged in child labor, are outside the education system, and 38 percent of children in hazardous work aged 5-14, and almost two-thirds of those aged 15-17 work over 43 hours weekly.

"The vast majority of forced labor today exists in the private economy. This underscores the importance of partnering with the business community to eradicate forced labor in supply chains. Given a large share of modern slavery can be traced to migration, improved migration governance is vitally important to preventing forced labour and protecting victims. Forced laborers produced some of the food we eat and the clothes we wear, and they have cleaned the buildings in which many of us live or work," the report said.

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