Why 1 in every 150 people in the world is in slavery

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:

“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.

“It occurs based on coercion, which can be physical or psychological.”

How many people are obliged to do forced labor?

The ILO says that 27.6 million people are forced to do forced labour.

Migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to this. These are people from poor countries who are recruited to work abroad in industries such as construction, agriculture, garment making and domestic chores, who are stuck in these jobs and cannot travel home.

Cane cutters in Bahia have some of the most degrading working conditions in the world - GETTY IMAGES - GETTY IMAGES

Cane cutters in Bahia have some of the most degrading working conditions in the world


“We estimate that there are four billion people in the world who are not protected by the rule of law,” said Euan Fraser of the International Justice Mission UK, which works to end violence against people living in poverty.

“People are trapped in forced labor and trafficked when employers can exploit them with impunity.”

Datta says India may be the worst country for forced labour.

“The big concern is the use of forced labor in places like brickyards and the use of child labor,” he says.

It is believed that 4.9 million women and children worldwide are forced into sex work.

“The trauma of that kind of slavery is perhaps worse than the trauma of fighting a war,” says Datta. “And there’s a stigma attached, so it’s difficult for survivors to talk about it. It can take years for survivors to recover from the physical and psychological damage.”

How many people are in forced marriages?

The ILO also says that 22 million people worldwide are trapped in forced marriages.

Two-thirds of them take place in the Asia-Pacific region.

India and neighboring countries such as Pakistan are particularly notorious for forced marriages involving people under 18, says Datta.

However, ILO figures suggest that forced marriages are more prevalent in the Gulf Arab countries – with 4.8 people in every 1,000 in the region in forced marriages.

Who is responsible for modern slavery?

Private employers are responsible for 86% of forced labor in the world (including forced sex work). The ILO estimates that employers worldwide earn US$150 billion from forced labour.

The organization says $51.8 billion of that money was raised by employers in the Asia-Pacific region from 15.1 million people in forced labor. Another US$ 46.9 million was raised in developed countries and in the European Union.

Camps for migrant workers in the Persian Gulf states are often overcrowded - Getty Images - Getty Images

Camps for migrant workers in the Persian Gulf states are often overcrowded

Image: Getty Images

However, says the ILO, the region with the most people in modern slavery compared to anywhere else in the world, as a proportion of population, is the Arabian Gulf states – with 5.3 out of every 1,000 people imprisoned at work. forced.

Euan Fraser of the International Justice Mission UK says the number of people trapped in forced labor is on the rise because of the pandemic.

“Because of covid, many people were stuck abroad or lost their jobs. They were more desperate for money and therefore more vulnerable to traffickers,” he says.

“It was a perfect storm for the rise of slavery.”

– This text was published at https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internacional-63833814

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