Source: Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, Forced Labour and Forced Marriage. By ILO, Walk Free Foundation, and IOM, 2017
Last year 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery. Out of them, 24.9 million were in forced labour. They were forced to work as domestic workers, in construction, factories, farms, and other sectors, as well as were engaged in sex industry. The rest 15.4 million people were forced to marry without consent and they lost their sexual autonomy and in many cases had also to provide labour to their new “families”. About 89 million people experienced slavery either for few days or five years during past five years.
Out of 40.3 million of total victims of modern slavery in 2016, 28.7 million of them (71%) were women and girls. 99% of victims of forced sex work are women and girls, and in other sectors of forced labour their share is still high with 58%. Some 40% of victims of forced labour imposed by state authorities, and 84% of victims of forced marriages are women and girls.
One in four victims of modern slavery in 2016 was a child. Here is the breakdown of share of children in different forms of slavery:
- 37% (5.7 million) in forced marriage;
- 18% in labour exploitation;
- 7% in forced labour imposed by state authorities;
- 21% in commercial sexual exploitation.
Some of food we eat and some of clothes we wear might be produced by forced labourers. An estimated 16 million people were in forced labour in private economy in 2016. Personal debts were used to force half of these victims to work for little or no payment.
Absolute most of victims of sexual exploitation live outside of their home countries, and in general, one in four victims of modern day slavery is a migrant. Almost nine out of ten victims are forced to work in their own home countries and 99% of victims of state-imposed forced labour are forced to work by own governments.
Domestic work comes first in engaging victims of forced labour in the private economy, many of whom are migrant women. The Arab states, currently becoming popular among Tajik women too, host 19% of the world’s female migrant domestic workers. Common problems domestic workers face are “unpaid wages, lack of overtime pay, long hours and heavy workloads, inadequacy of rest days, absence of health care and maternity leave, poor living conditions, and issues related to contracts and their termination”.
Construction industry employs approximately 7% of the global workforce and working conditions are frequently dangerous with high levels of industrial accidents.
It is not easy for victims to free themselves from the condition they are in, as employers or recruiters use different physical and psychological tools to keep the victims. Withholding wages and threats not to pay it were used to prevent one in four victims from leaving the situation. Threats of violence (17%), acts of physical violence (16%), and threats against family (12%) are also frequent. Seven per cent of women victims reported acts of sexual violence.
An estimated 3.8 million adults were victims of forced sexual exploitation and one million children were victims of commercial sexual exploitation in 2016. The vast majority of victims (99 per cent) were women and girls. Victims were exploited for an average of about two years before being freed or managing to escape.
More than four million people were in state-imposed forced labour in 2016. Children represented 7 percent of victims of state-imposed forced labour. More than half of them are schoolchildren engaged in works far from education goals and this especially is notable in North Korea.
In 2016, an estimated 15.4 million people (88% - women and girls) were living in a forced marriage. Almost one in three victims (37%) were under 18 years of age at the time of the marriage. Almost half of child victims (44%) were forced to marry before the age of 15 years.
Victims were forced to marry in exchange for payment to their families, the cancellation of debt, or to settle family disputes. During conflict, women and girls can be forced to marry fighters. In developed nations, women and girls can be forced to marry foreigners to secure visa for them. In some societies, a rapist is permitted to escape criminal sanctions by marrying the victim, usually with the consent of her family.
There are reports of forced marriage in Central Asia too, but few surveys on the issue have been conducted there.
Once forced to marry, many victims are placed at greater risk of being subjected to other forms of exploitation, including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and other forms of forced labour.