Forced labor takes different forms, including debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. The victims are the most vulnerable – women and girls forced into prostitution, migrants trapped in debt bondage, and sweatshop or farm workers kept there by clearly illegal tactics and paid little or nothing.
The Meanings of Forced Labor
Forced labor refers to situations in which persons are coerced to work through the use of violence or intimidation, or by more subtle means such as accumulated debt, retention of identity papers or threats of denunciation to immigration authorities.
Forced labor, contemporary forms of slavery, debt bondage and human trafficking are closely related terms though not identical in a legal sense. Most situations of slavery or human trafficking are however covered by ILO’s definition of forced labor.
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Facts and figures
- Almost 21 million people are victims of forced labor – 11.4 million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys.
- Almost 19 million victims are exploited by private individuals or enterprises and over 2 million by the state or rebel groups.
- Of those exploited by individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation.
- Forced labor in the private economy generates US$ 150 billion in illegal profits per year.
- Domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment are among the sectors most concerned.
- Migrant workers and indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to forced labor.