Slavery did not end with the abolitionist movement of the 19th century. It still exists today and surfaces all over the world. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates there to be 24.9 million victims of forced labour globally, while The Global Slavery Index estimates there to be 40.3 million victims of modern slavery (find out more on the Resources page).
Around the world, people are enslaved for the purpose of sexual exploitation, child sexual exploitation, forced labour, child labour, bonded labour, forced marriage, domestic servitude, agricultural work, forced criminality and more. Millions are either abducted, deceived or coerced into working against their will, without pay, in slave like conditions. In 2014, the ILO estimated that annual profits from the trafficking of human beings generates $150 billion.
In 2000, the UN passed the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons as part of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The trafficking protocol is the first global legally binding instrument with an internationally agreed-upon definition on trafficking in persons (find out more on the Legislation page).
As part of the post-2015 development agenda, the UN adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including a commitment to end slavery under Goal 8.7: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms”.
Slavery affects us all, from individual members of the public to large businesses and corporations. It impacts homes and work places through many of the everyday products purchased. For example, consumers can unintentionally make use of materials that may have been mined by men in the Congo, or eat food containing cocoa grown in Ghana, while large companies may unwittingly enslave workers in their very own supply chains.
Slavery is a modern issue affecting modern society. Awareness of the crime is increasing. Countries, governments and citizens are stepping up in their response to slavery to ensure slave masters and human traffickers are obstructed and victims are protected.