World

'More than 40 million people trapped in slavery'

NEW YORK: More than 40 million people were trapped as slaves last year in forced labour and forced marriages, according to the first joint effort by key anti-slavery groups to estimate the number of victims worldwide of the international crime.

The International Labour Organization (ILO), human rights group Walk Free Foundation, and the International Organization for Migration said 40.3 million people were victims of slavery in 2016. They said this was a conservative estimate.

They estimated 24.9 million people were trapped working in factories, on construction sites, farms and fishing boats, and as domestic or sex workers, while 15.4 million people were in marriages to which they had not consented.

Almost three out of every four slaves were women and girls and one in four was a child, with modern slavery most prevalent in Africa followed by Asia and Pacific, said the report.

"Forced labourers produced some of the food we eat and the clothes we wear, and they have cleaned the buildings in which many of us live or work," the groups said in a report released yesterday, stressing the crime was prevalent in all nations.

The findings mark the first time the groups collaborated on an international estimate and prompted calls for stronger labour rights, improved governance of migrants, action to address root causes of debt bondage, and better victim identification.

"Given that a large share of modern slavery can be traced to migration, improved migration governance is vitally important to preventing forced labour and protecting victims," they said. - REUTERS

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