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Slavery is not just a thing of the past. A report from the United Nations agency the International Labour Organization (ILO) says about 50 million people are enslaved today. They are trapped in forced labour or marriages. The ILO said one in 150 people in the world is enslaved. This figure increased by 20 per cent in the past few years. It is still growing because of the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, and the cost of living crisis. These things have made many people poor. The only way they can survive is to work in terrible conditions or be forced into unwanted marriages.
In 2016, the UN hoped to end modern slavery by 2030. However, the number of people in forced labour or forced marriage shot up by 10 million. The ILO said slavery happens when people "cannot refuse or cannot leave because of threats, violence…abuse of power or other forms of [force]". This problem is not just in poor countries. An ILO spokesperson said: "It would be a mistake to believe that forced labour is solely the problem of poor countries." He said over half of cases of forced labour and a quarter of forced marriages are in richer countries. Women and children are at the most risk.
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