More Than Forty Million People Enslaved Globally, Study Finds

More Than Forty Million People Enslaved Globally, Study Finds

An estimated 40.3 million men, women, and children around the globe are victims of modern slavery, a report from the 8.7 Alliance, a partnership committed to achieving Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7, finds.

Global Estimates of Modern Slavery (68 pages, PDF), the report from the Walk Free Foundation and International Labour Organization, developed in partnership with the International Organization for Migration, estimates that in 2016, 24.9 million people were in forced labor, 15.4 million in forced marriages, 4.8 million in forced sexual exploitation, and 4.1 million in state-imposed forced labor. Women represented 71 percent of the total, 99 percent of the victims of forced labor in the commercial sex industry, and 84 percent of  those in forced marriages, while children accounted for 21.3 percent of victims of sexual exploitation. According to the ILO's estimate, about 152 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 were subject to child labor.

The report also found that the total number of victims of modern slavery was highest in Asia and the Pacific, with 25 million, or 62 percent of the global total, followed by Africa (23 percent), Europe and Central Asia (9 percent), the Americas (5 percent), and the Arab states (1 percent). The rate of modern slavery per 1,000 people was highest in Africa, with 7.6 victims for every 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).

Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7 calls on the world to "take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms."

"The fact that as a society we still have forty million people in modern slavery, on any given day shames us all," said Andrew Forrest, chair and founder of the Walk Free Foundation and a Giving Pledge signatory. "If we consider the results the last five years, for which we have collected data, eighty-nine million people experienced some form of modern slavery for periods of time ranging from a few days to the whole 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."