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A United Nations A report released on Monday found that nearly 50 million people worldwide were living in “modern slavery” at the end of 2021, indicating that a significant decline is underway.
The figures were a 25% increase from the previous report on people in forced labor or marriage in 2017.
“The lack of improvement in modern slavery is shocking,” said Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labor Organization. in his statement. “Nothing can justify the continuation of this gross abuse of human rights.”
ILO and its partners “commercial sexual abuse“Forced labor affects one in four people – the poor, women and children are disproportionately vulnerable.
The ILO, the UN’s International Organization for Migration and The Walk Free Foundation – a rights group focusing on modern slavery – reported that at the end of 2021, 28 million people were involved in forced labor and 22 were in forced marriage.
The report released on Monday said the number of people living in modern slavery had increased by 10 million since the last such report was published in 2017, based on figures from a year ago. Two-thirds of the increase is reported to be due to forced marriages alone.
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Based on available data, the ILO and partners have found that child and forced marriages are on the rise in countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Congo, Egypt, India, Uganda and Yemen. But the report says rich countries are not “immune” to the problem, with almost a quarter of forced marriages occurring in high- or upper-middle-income countries.
Crises, including the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and noted that armed conflicts have led to an increase in extreme poverty, precarious migration and gender-based violence in recent years, increasing the risk of all forms of modern slavery.
More than two-thirds of all forced marriages occurred in the world’s most populous Asia-Pacific region, but the highest per capita rate was in Arab countries, where 5 per 1,000 people were forced into marriage.
The report says forced marriage is closely linked to “long-standing patriarchal attitudes and practices” – with 85% of cases driven by “family pressure”. When it comes to forced labor, about one-eighth of those affected are children and half of those exposed to commercial sexual exploitation.
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Guy Ryder, director-general of the UN labor agency, which brings together workers, businesses and governments, called for a “comprehensive approach” and said “trade unions, employers’ groups, civil society and ordinary people all have important roles to play”.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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