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21 million people are now victims of forced labour, ILO says

(ILO) - Nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labour across the world, trapped in jobs which they were coerced or deceived into and which they cannot leave, according to the ILO's new global estimate .

The Asia-Pacific region accounts for the largest number of forced labourers in the world - 11.7 million (56 per cent) of the global total, followed by Africa at 3.7 million (18 per cent) and Latin America with 1.8 million victims (9 per cent).

 

 

The head of the ILO's Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour, Beate Andrees, says that the methodology has been revised and improved since the ILO's initial estimate in 2005 and the numbers are more robust now. "We have come a long way over the last seven years since we first put an estimate on how many people were forced into labour or services across the world. We have also made good progress ensuring most countries now have legislation which criminalises forced labour, human trafficking and slavery-like practices".

 

Forced labour in numbers

-Three out of every 1,000 people worldwide are in forced labour today.

-18.7 million (90 %) are exploited in the private economy, by individuals or enterprises. Of these, 4.5 million (22 per cent) are victims of forced sexual exploitation and 14.2 million (68 per cent) are victims of forced labour exploitation in economic activities, such as agriculture, construction, domestic work or manufacturing.

-2.2 million (10%) are in state-imposed forms of forced labour, for example in prisons, or in work imposed by the state military or by rebel armed forces.

 

 

- 5.5 million (26 %) are below 18 years.

- The number of victims per thousand inhabitants is highest in the central and south-eastern Europe and Africa regions at 4.2 and 4.0 per 1,000 inhabitants respectively. It is the lowest in the Developed Economies and European Union at 1.5 per 1,000 inhabitants.

- The relatively high prevalence in central and south-eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States can be explained by the fact that the population is much lower than for example in Asia and at the same time reports of trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation and of state-imposed forced labour in the region are numerous.

- The Developed Economies and European Union have 1.5 million (7 per cent) forced labourers.

- Central and south-eastern European countries, and the Commonwealth of Independent States account for 1.6 million (7 per cent).

- There are an estimated 600,000 (3 per cent) victims in the Middle East.

- 9.1 million victims (44 %) who have moved either internally or internationally. The majority, 11.8 million (56 %), are subjected to forced labour in their place of origin or residence. Cross-border movement is heavily associated with forced sexual exploitation.

 

Beate Andrees says that attention should now turn to better identification and prosecution of forced labour and related offences such as human trafficking.

 

"The successful prosecution of individuals who bring such misery to so many remains inadequate - this needs to change. We must also ensure that the numbers of victims does not rise during the current economic crisis where people are increasingly vulnerable to these heinous practices."

 

 


Click here to read the full results and methodology.

Click here to read the fact sheet.

Click here to read the executive summary in English.

Click here to read the executive summary in Spanish.

Click here to read the executive summary in French.