50 Million People Stuck In ‘Modern Slavery’: UN

According to a report conducted by the UN agencies for labour and migration and the Walk Free Foundation, 50 million people are still stuck in modern slavery, either as forced labour or forced marriage.

50 Million People Stuck In 'Modern Slavery': UN 1

The UN announced Monday that 50 million people worldwide are subject to forced labour or forced marriage, and warned that the number of these people has substantially increased in recent years.

According to a new estimate, the number of people subjected to forced labour or forced marriage increased by 10 million between 2016 and 2021 despite the United Nations’ 2030 target of eradicating all kinds of modern slavery.

28 million individuals were engaged in forced labour at the end of last year, and 22 million were living in forced marriages, according to a report conducted by the UN agencies for labour and migration and the Walk Free Foundation.

According to the research, that means that almost one in every 150 individuals worldwide are victims of modern-day slavery.

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The survey showed that the risk has increased as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic, which has exacerbated conditions and increased debt levels for many workers.

It has caused “unprecedented disruption to employment and education, increases in extreme poverty, and forced and unsafe migration”, it claimed, adding to the threat when combined with the effects of climate change and violent conflicts.

Guy Ryder, the head of the International Labor Organization (ILO), issued a statement in which he said, “It is shocking that the situation of modern slavery is not improving.”

“Nothing can justify the persistence of this fundamental abuse of human rights.”

The report issued a warning that this is a persistent issue because estimates show that forced labour can last for years and forced marriage is frequently “a life sentence.”

The most vulnerable groups are by far women and children.

One in five people who are forced to work are children, and the survey stated that more than half of them are engaged in commercial sexual exploitation.

According to the study, migrant employees are more than three times as likely as non-migrant adult workers to be subjected to forced labour.

“This report underscores the urgency of ensuring that all migration is safe, orderly, and regular,” Antonio Vitorino, head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said in the statement.

Modern slavery exists in essentially every country, with upper-middle-income or high-income nations accounting for more than half of cases of forced labour and a quarter of cases of forced marriages.

“It would be a mistake to believe that forced labour is solely the problem of poor countries,” Ryder told AFP.

According to the research, 6.6 million more people, mostly women and girls, have been trapped in forced marriages since the most recent global estimates in 2016.

Over the same time span, there were 2.7 million more people engaged in forced labour.

More forced labour in the private economy, including forced commercial sexual exploitation, is the only factor contributing to the increase.

The research expressed alarm over the misuse of forced prison labour in several nations, including the United States, by stating that 14% of individuals engaged in forced labour were performing tasks that were ordered by state officials.

The UN rights office’s significant worries regarding “credible accounts of forced labour under exceptionally harsh conditions” in North Korea were also mentioned.

Additionally, it brought attention to the situation in China, where a number of UN agencies have issued warnings about the possibility of forced labour, particularly in the Xinjiang region, where Beijing is alleged to have imprisoned more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

Beijing has vehemently denied these accusations, stating that it operates career centres to counter extremism.

More evidence was required, but according to a study released on August 31 by former UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet, labour laws in the region seemed to be discriminatory and to “involve elements of coercion.”

The ILO Forced Labor Convention was approved by China last month, which was noted in the report on Monday.

According to Ryder, this indicates “they will start to report on the situation of the Uyghurs, and that will give us new opportunities to have access and to go deeper into that situation.”

He admitted that it was “not an easy conversation, … but obviously it’s a very important one.”

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