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A report released by the United Nations says that around 50 million people worldwide live in “modern slavery.”

The report co-published by the International Labor Organization and human rights group “Walk Free” says that roughly 28 million people are currently in forced labor and 22 million people are in forced marriages. The report adds, “Modern slavery occurs in almost every country in the world, and cuts across ethnic, cultural and religious lines. More than half (52%) of all forced labor and a quarter of all forced marriages can be found in upper-middle-income or high-income countries.”

The report also highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic “has led to increased risk of forced marriage in every region. Where data is available, increases in child and forced marriages have been reported in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Senegal, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Reacting to the news, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said, “It is shocking that the situation of modern slavery is not improving. Nothing can justify the persistence of this fundamental abuse of human rights. We know what needs to be done, and we know it can be done. Effective national policies and regulations are fundamental. But governments cannot do this alone. International standards provide a sound basis, and an all-hands-on-deck approach is needed. Trade unions, employers’ organizations, civil society and ordinary people all have critical roles to play.”

Jon

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