Many of us think slavery is a thing of the past. It isn't. A new report from the United Nations says there are about 50 million people in modern-day slavery. This includes being trapped in forced labour or in forced marriages. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is an agency of the UN. It created the report. The ILO said around one in 150 people in the world is enslaved in some way. This figure has increased by 20 per cent in the past few years. It is still growing. This is because of the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, and the cost of living crisis. These things have made many people poor or forced them into debt. The only way they can survive is to work in terrible conditions or be forced into unwanted marriages.
The UN hoped to end modern slavery by 2030. However, since creating this aim in 2016, the number of people in forced labour or forced marriage shot up by 10 million. The ILO said modern slavery happens when people "cannot refuse or cannot leave because of threats, violence, deception, abuse of power or other forms of [force]". The ILO said this problem existed in rich countries as well as poor nations. An ILO spokesperson said: "It would be a mistake to believe that forced labour is solely the problem of poor countries." He added that more than half of cases of forced labour and a quarter of forced marriages are in "upper-middle-income or high-income countries". Women and children are at the most risk.