Why one in every 150 people in the world is in slavery

Two children in Bangladesh look for objects in the garbage in Bangladesh

Credit, Getty Images

photo caption,

Children in Bangladesh are paid cheaply to scavenge objects from landfills

Worldwide, one person in every 150 lives in a situation of modern slavery, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the UN.

The total number of people affected is 50 million — up from 40 million just four years ago, according to the organization.

What is “modern slavery”?

Modern slavery is an umbrella term that describes the exploitation of people through practices that include:

  • Forced labor: any work that people are forced to do against their will.
  • Debt bondage: when people are forced to work to pay off debts.
  • Slavery based on descent: when people are born into slavery and treated as property.
  • Forced marriage: when someone marries against their will and cannot leave.
  • Domestic servitude: This is not always slavery, but domestic servants can be in cases of abuse and exploitation behind closed doors.

“It’s all about exploiting vulnerable people, often for economic gain,” says Monti Datta, an associate professor of political science at the University of Richmond in the United States and an anti-slavery activist.

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