There are currently 40.3 million people enslaved globally and 151.6 million children subjected to child labor.
These were key figures from two new reports – one on modern slavery and one on child labor – published Sept. 19 by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation (WFF), in partnership with the International Organization of Migration (IOM).
Forced labor (16 million persons) is the most common form of modern slavery, followed by forced marriage (15.4 million), forced sexual exploitation (4.8 million) and state-imposed forced labor (4.1 million).
“In the past five years, 89 million people experienced some form of modern slavery,” the report stated. “The average length of time victims were in forced labour varied from a few days or weeks in some forms imposed by state authorities to nearly two years for forced sexual exploitation.”
Females are most commonly exploited, accounting for 71 percent of the 40 million enslaved – 99 percent of forced sexual exploitation, 84 percent of forced marriages, 59 percent of forced labor and 41 percent of state-imposed forced labor.
While adults comprise a majority of persons enslaved, children represent 25 percent of the global total – 37 percent of forced marriages, 21 percent of forced sexual exploitation, 19 percent of forced labor and 7 percent of state-imposed forced labor.
“There were 5.9 adult victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 adults in the world and 4.4 child victims for every 1,000 children in the world,” the modern slavery report noted.
Enslavement rates varied significantly by region. Africa has the highest rate of 7.6 per 1,000 people, followed by Asia and the Pacific (6.1), Europe and Central Asia (3.9), Arab States (3.3) and the Americas (1.9).
“The fact that as a society we still have 40 million people in modern slavery on any given day shames us all,” said Walk Free Foundation chairman and founder Andrew Forrest in a press release announcing the report. “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.”
Of the 151.6 million children subjected to child labor – “work that is too hazardous, demands too many hours or is performed by children who are too young” – 87.5 million are boys and 68.1 million are girls.
Africa has the highest percentage of global children subjected to child labor (19.6 percent) followed by Asia and the Pacific (7.4), the Americas (5.3), Europe and Central Asia (4.1) and the Arab States (2.9).
“The 2016 estimates tell a story both of real progress and of a job unfinished,” the report summarized. “They show a dramatic decline in child labour over the 16 years since the ILO began monitoring child labour in 2000. But the estimates also indicate that the pace of decline has slowed considerably in the last four years, precisely at a time when substantial acceleration is needed to reach the ambitious 2025 target date for ending child labour. The bottom line is that we remain far from the world we want: 152 million children are still engaged in child labour, almost half them in its worst forms.”
The full report on modern slavery is available here.
The full report on child labor is available here.