Millions trapped in modern slavery, child labor: UN

GENEVA — An estimated 40 million people are today trapped in modern slavery, mostly women and girls, and 152 million children are subject to child labor, almost one in 10 around the world, the latest United Nations (UN) report revealed on Tuesday.

The new research, developed jointly by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Walk Free Foundation, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has revealed the true scale of modern slavery around the world.

The data, released during the UN General Assembly, shows that among the 40 million people trapped in modern slavery, 29 million, or 71 percent, are women and girls. One in four victims of modern slavery is a child, which totals about 10 million.

Meanwhile, some 152 million children, including 64 million girls and 88 million boys, are subject to child labor, accounting for almost one in 10 children around the world, the report says. Some 72.1 million of them are living in Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific with 62 million, the Americas with 10.7 million, Europe and Central Asia with 5.5 million, and the Arab States with 1.2 million.

More than 70 percent of child laborers remain in agriculture, while a little more than 17 percent work in the services sector and almost 12 percent in industry.

“The message… is very clear,” says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. “The world won’t be in a position to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals unless we dramatically increase our efforts to fight these scourges.”

The report also finds out that an estimated 25 million people were in forced labor in 2016, including 16 million in forced labor exploitation in private sectors, such as domestic work, construction and agriculture. About five million were in forced sexual exploitation, and just more than four million, or 16 percent of the total, were in forced labor imposed by their state authorities.

It’s a shame on us all, says Andrew Forrest, chairman and founder of the Walk Free Foundation, an international human rights organization to help end modern slavery globally.

“This speaks of the deep seated discrimination and inequalities in our world today, coupled with a shocking tolerance of exploitation. This has to stop,” he added.