Manila: A new report estimates that there are more than 40 million people who are victims of modern slavery in 2016 – and one in four of those are children.
The findings came from International Labour Organisation (ILO), a U.N. agency focusing on labour rights, and the Walk Free Foundation, an international NGO working to end modern slavery.
According to CNN, the report evaluated that in 2016, 25 million people were in forced labour – people forced to work, under coercion and threat – and 15 million people were found to be in forced marriage.
It is difficult to identify modern slavery since it’s a hidden crime, and it is impossible to know exactly how many people are living in it. Another reason of estimating the exact figures is that different studies use different definitions of slavery, since some studies includes forced marriages into the definition of slavery and others do not.
International Labour Organisation and Walk Free Foundation have been quoting figures on this issue separately. But, this report called The 2017 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, has been a collabourative work for the first time between ILO and Walk Free Foundation reporting on the worldwide slavery.
Both organisations have described this report as giving the most reliable slavery figures to date, and the researchers have said the numbers in the report shows that much work is needed to combat the problem.
Fiona David, Walk Free Foundation’s executive director of global research said, "we know that if there are 40 million people in modern slavery, only tens of thousands of victims are being helped, assisted and supported, whether through the criminal justice system or through victim support systems,"
"It’s a massive gap that we have to close."
Women and children
The report estimates that women and girls account for 71 percent of slavery victims, which includes 99 percent of them in the commercial sex industry and 84 percent of women are victims of forced marriages.
Children forced into marriages made up around 37 percent, as well as 18 percent of forced labour victims and 21 percent of children were sexually exploited.
The definition of modern slavery according to the report is exploitation of a person who can’t refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion or deception – which includes forced labour, debt, bondage, forced marriage and human trafficking.
According to the report the average length of the time victims were in forced labour ranged from a few days in some forms of state-imposed forced labour, to two years of forced sexual exploitation.
Forced labour imposed by the state authorities makes up 4.1 million people, including people forced by state authorities in agriculture or construction work to boost economic development, young military recruits forced to perform non-military work, and prisoners forced to work without consent at private prisons.
Global Estimates of Modern Slavery 2017’s data
This recent data is a combined data collected from 2012 and 2016 drawing from various other sources such as national surveys involving interviews with more than 71,000 respondents in 48 countries.
The data was also used from the International Organisation for Migration – an intergovernmental organisation related to the U.N.
Modern slavery according to the report is most prevalent in Africa (7.6 victims per 1,000 people) followed by Asia and Pacific (6.1 per 1,000).
Africa was rampant in forced marriages with 4.8 per 1,000 and in Asia and Pacific region forced labour was prevalent 4 victims per 1,000 people.
However, the report warns that these regional figures should be interpreted with caution, because of a lack of available data in some regions, notably the Arab States and America.
Forced labour was in all kinds of industries identified by the report. Domestic workers made up 24 percent of adults in forced labour, 18 percent workers in construction, 15 percent in manufacturing and 11 percent in agriculture and fishing.
3.8 million Adults are victims of forced sexual exploitation and 1 million children are estimated to be victims of sexual exploitation.
Michaelle De Cock, senior statistician with the ILO, said that the research on forced labour highlighted a lack of social protection systems.
"There is a need for labour and social rights in the informal economy, and a need for collective bargaining and workers organisations," she added.
ILO’s report without the contribution from Walk Free Foundation was exclusively focused on child labour. The report 2017 Global Estimates of Child Labour, found that there are 152 million children around the world engaged in labour, and 73 million of them are in work that “directly endangers their health, safety and moral development”.
According to the report, 90 percent of all children in child labour are in the Africa and the Asia and the Pacific regions. In Africa, 20 percent of the continent s children are in child labour, while in the Asia and the Pacific region, 7 percent are in child labour.
The report noted that "understanding and addressing family reliance on children s labour will therefore be critical to broader progress towards ending child labour."
108 million children that make 71 percent are working in agriculture sector generally in subsistence and commercial farming and livestock herding.
The report uses data from 105 national household surveys, covering more than 70% of the world population of children aged 5 to 17 years.
Included in the figures are almost 38 million children aged 15-17. Although 15 to 17-year-olds are above the minimum working age of 15, the ILO considers them to be in child labour if their work may be physically or psychologically injurious to their well-being.
The two reports are intended to help towards achieving target 8.7 of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs are 17 broad goals to be achieved by 2030 and target 8.7 calls for effective measures to end forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking, as well as child labour in all its forms.
"The SDGs are very much the motivator for this research," said David. "It s critical that if you want to end child labour and modern slavery then you have to have some measurement framework, so we re trying to get a handle on how big the problems are so everyone has the information they need to develop responses."