When you hear the mention of slavery, you will probably think back to to the enslavement of Africans and think that that was abolished centuries ago. That is false. There is still a very alive and thriving forced labor market operating in the world. The Walk Free Global Slavery Index defines slavery today as “one person possessing or controlling another person in such as a way as to significantly deprive that person of their individual liberty, with the intention of exploiting that person through their use, management, profit, transfer or disposal.” Modern day slavery has been imposed on tens of millions and is making hundreds of billions of today’s slave masters.
According to activist group Free The Slaves, there are an estimated 21 to 36 million modern day slaves. 55% of these are women and girls and 45% men and boys. These men, women and children are often forced to live in deplorable conditions and endure physical and psychological abuse perpetuated by their captors. In its 2014 report entitled Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour, the International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that the forced labor market generates $150 billion annually. That breaks down to $99 billion made from commercial sex industry and $51 billion from labor in areas that include agricultural and domestic work, among other types of labor. In contrast, those forced into prostitution are far less than those forced into labor slavery, by a ratio of 22% to 78%. When you hear the term “human trafficking,” it is not only referring to the sex trade.
While the highest volumes of modern day slaves are concentrated in Asia and Africa, don’t think that the United States is exempt. The US ranks as #145 out 167 nations with significant slave counts with a reported 60,000 victims living here.
Read the ILO’s report here.
See Free The Slaves’ data here.
Below is a map showing the percentages of country populations that are enslaved.