Globe, Human Rights, Politiks, United Kingdom, World

Slaves of the 21st Century: the inhumane tolerance of exploitation

On a global scale, around 40 million people are victims of modern slavery. Of these, 25 million are the target of forced labour and 15 million are forced into marriages without consent.


Trabajadores_PixabayTeyuné Díaz Díaz


The data, made public by the International Labour Organization (ILO) during the United Nations General Assembly (in session from the 19th to the 25th of September in New York) showed that women and girls are the most vulnerable.

Between the two groups they embody 71% of the total figure, some 29 million. Women represent 99% of the victims of forced labour in the sex trade and 84% of forced marriages. The ILO, the Walk Free Foundation and the International Organization for Migration carried out this investigation. Their estimations revealed the actual scope of modern slavery.

Of the 25 million people trapped in forced labour in 2016, 16 million were victims of labour exploitation in the private sector (domestic work, construction and agriculture).

childe infancia niñez abuso pixabayIn addition, around five million were subject to sexual exploitation, and a little over four million (16% of the total) were subject to forced labour imposed by State authorities.

With respect to forced marriage, it is estimated that until 2016 there were 15.4 million forced people. Of this figure, 6.5 million of the cases occurred within the last five years (2012-2016).

The rest are from before this period, but they continue to be trapped in this situation.

It is striking that at this point in the 21st Century these matrimonial practices persist, but the fact that most get married as young girls is worse.

Child labour

In modern slavery, child labour is another inhumane and frequently occurring pattern. It is defined as all work that deprives minors of their childhood, potential and dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and psychological development.

Even in the most extreme forms of child labour, children are subject to slavery, separated from their families, exposed to grave danger and diseases and/or left to their own devices on the streets of big cities, often at a very young age.

Zapatos trabajo pixabayIn this regard, the ILO presented a report that confirms that around 152 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are victims of this affliction, mainly concentrated in agriculture (70.9%) and the service sector (17.1%), while in industrial labour the figure is 11.9%.

Of the millions of exploited children, 64 million are female and 88 million are male, a statistic that, according to the ILO, represents the painful figure of one in ten children on the globe.

The continent where the largest quantity of minors between the ages of 5 and 17 are working is Africa, with 72.1 million. Asia and the Pacific follow with 62 million, the Americas with 10.7 million, Europe and Central Asia with 5.5 million, and the Arab States with 1.2 million.

Approximately one third of the exploited children between the ages of 5 and 14 are outside of the school system, and 38% carry out dangerous jobs.

Children and 4 PixabayTogether with this, almost two thirds of those that are between 15 and 17 years work more than 43 hours per week.

This form of labour abuse is a violation of international law, noted in ILO conventions on the topic and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In addition, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) take its eradication into account, with the intention of eliminating all forms of child exploitation by 2025.

Some reflections

In front of the UN General Assembly, the Director-General of the ILO, Guy Ryder, assessed that the world would not be in conditions to reach the SDGs if the effort to fight the aforementioned afflictions is not drastically intensified.

He added that the new statistics can contribute to elaborating and developing interventions directed towards preventing both forced and child labour.

Trabajadores tardse pixabayOn the topic, the president of the Walk Free Foundation, Andrew Foster, assessed that having 40 million victims of modern slavery is a disgrace. He added that the results of the last five years indicate that 89 million people were abused from anywhere between a few days up to the full five years.

Foster pointed out that this situation is the reflection of deeply rooted discrimination and inequalities in the world today, joint with a scandalous tolerance for exploitation.(PL)
(Translated by Sarah Claman)Photos: Pixabay


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