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40 million modern slaves, UN General Assembly told

Some 40.3 million people around the world are trapped in conditions of slavery, according to a report released on Tuesday and presented to the UN General Assembly. Campaigners say the report gives the best-ever account of modern slavery and is a stepping stone to helping governments stop it.

Of the 40.3 million people around the world trapped in conditions of modern slavery, an estimated 24.9 million are forced into working in the sex trade, on industrial or agricultural sites or as domestic workers, according to the report, Global estimates of modern slavery: Forced labour and forced marriage.

Another 15.4 million people are married against their will, it says.

Women and girls account for three of every four modern slaves, or about 29 million people, while one in four slaves is a child.

“Modern slavery is a term we use to cover a whole range of complex legal concepts,” says Fiona David, executive director of global research at the Walk Free Foundation, one of the main partners in authoring the report.

“Some people refer to human trafficking or forced labour, while others use the terms debt bondage and, of course, slavery itself,” David explains. “Really what [the term] modern slavery does is highlight the common features across these crimes, which is exploitation of another person through some sort of force, fraud, coercion or threat.”

The report found practices of modern slavery are most prevalent in Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific regions, as well as in Europe.


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