Fifty million people were forced to work or marry

Modern slavery has increased in the world in recent years, mainly driven by the pandemic, with almost 50 million people forced into work or marriage last year, the UN said on Monday September 12.

The UN wants to eliminate this scourge by 2030, but last year 10 million more people were in a state of modern slavery than the global estimate for 2016, according to the latest report published by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – two UN agencies – together with the NGO Walk Free Foundation.

The pandemic, is an aggravating factor

Of the 50 million modern slaves, approximately 27.6 million people are subjected to forced labor and 22 million people are married against their will. Women and girls make up more than two-thirds of those forced into marriage and nearly four-fifths of those in situations of commercial sexual exploitation, according to the report. In total, this represents 54% of cases of modern slavery. The pandemic – which caused the deterioration of working conditions and increased debt among workers – strengthened the springs of modern slavery in all its forms.

In recent years, the report explains, the proliferation of crises – the pandemic but also armed conflicts and climate change – have caused unprecedented disruption in terms of work and education, the aggravation of extreme poverty, the proliferation of forced and dangerous migration, the explosion. in cases of gender-based violence. All of these contribute to increasing the risk of modern slavery. Worldwide, about one in 150 people is considered a modern slave. These data – mainly from nationally representative household surveys – also show that situations of modern slavery are not temporary, but last for years.

In a press release, the Director General of the ILO, Guy Ryder, judged “it is surprising that the state of modern slavery has not improvedand calls on governments but also on labor unions, employers’ organizations, civil society and ordinary people to fight against “this fundamental violation of human rights“. The report suggests several actions. These include improving and enforcing labor laws and inspections, ending state-imposed forced labor, expanding social protections and strengthening legal protections. , including raising the legal age of marriage to 18 without exception.

In every country

Women and children remain disproportionately vulnerable. Therefore, almost one in eight forced laborers is a child and more than half of them are victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Migrant workers are more than three times more likely to be subject to forced labor than non-migrant adult workers. Antonio Vitorino, Director General of IOM, pleaded that all migration “be safe, orderly and regular“. “Reducing the vulnerability of migrants to forced labor and human trafficking depends above all on national policies and legal frameworks that respect, protect and fulfill the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants.“, he said.

Modern slavery exists in almost every country in the world. More than half (52%) of all cases of forced labor and a quarter of all forced marriages are in upper-middle or high-income countries. Forced marriages have increased in recent years, rising to 6.6 million since 2016 estimates worldwide. The report also revealed that the number of people in forced labor increased by 2.7 million between 2016 and 2021. , an increase due only to forced labor in the private economy , commercial sexual exploitation and other sectors.

Asia and the Pacific is home to more than half of the world’s total forced laborers. The report highlights in particular that various UN bodies have raised concerns about forced labor in China, including Xinjiang. As such, the report points out that China deposited on August 12 the instruments of ratification of two basic ILO conventions on forced labor, which “creates a new momentum for the cooperation of the government and social partners in following up on these issues (and) in the fight against forced labor“.

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