Modern slavery is on the rise, and it looks like the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in the uptick.
These numbers are frightening.
Nearly 50 million people were living in some form of modern slavery last year, either through forced labor or a forced marriage, an increase of 10 million more people from 2016, according to the United Nations's International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The United Nations published the study this month with anti-slavery organization Walk Free, finding that close to 28 million people were in forced labor in 2021 and nearly 22 million were in a forced marriage, which translates to about 1 in every 150 people worldwide.
10 million additional modern-day slaves in just five years. That's not cool. And that number, "1 in every 150 people" living in modern-day slavery, that really puts this in perspective.
The number of people in forced labor increased by 2.7 million people from 2016 to 2021. About one-third of all people in forced labor engage in trade, transport or hospitality sectors, and are coerced into slavery because wages are held back, they must repay debt or are threatened.
Of the 28 million in forced labor, 3.3 million are children and more than half of those children are being sexually exploited, according to the UN report.
So next time you buy a pair of shoes, a sweatshirt, or even a simple toy for your child, try to keep these modern-day slaves in mind. Because you just might be paying to keep them enslaved.
As for forced marriages:
The 22 million victims in a forced marriage marks a 6.6 million increase from 2016. That figure includes 14.9 million girls and women, half of whom were coerced into the marriage by verbal or physical abuse.
The region with the most forced marriages also includes Asian and Pacific nations, with more than 14 million tied to a form of modern slavery.
But Arab countries in the Middle East and certain regions of Africa make up the highest percentage per capita, with 10 percent of the region's population in a forced marriage, according to the UN.
Yeah man, this is pretty messed up.
A few factors here:
The U.N. estimates the percentage has increased in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated economic and social issues and expanded opportunities for exploitation…
Much of modern slavery revolves around migration and the exploitation of migrant workers. Migration is likely to increase as climate change creates profound crises across the world and drives refugees to new countries.
The U.N. report found that 15 percent of all people in forced labor are migrants.
Covid is all but over, but I don't see migration slowing anytime soon. Hopefully, this uptick in modern-day slavery is merely temporary.
We can do better than this, world.
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