Global Estimates of Modern Slavery

  • 15 Sep 2022

The latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery was published by the International Labour Organization (ILO), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and international human rights group Walk Free.

Major Findings

  • In 2021, some 50 million people were living in modern slavery: 28 million in forced labour and 22 million in forced marriages.
  • Compared to 2016 global estimates, 10 million more people were in modern slavery in 2021, with women and children disproportionately vulnerable.
  • Modern slavery occurs in almost every country in the world, and cuts across ethnic, cultural and religious lines.
  • More than half of all forced labour and a quarter of all forced marriages can be found in upper-middle income or high-income countries.
  • Eighty-six per cent of forced labour cases are found in the private sector, with forced commercial sexual exploitation representing 23 per cent – almost four out of five victims of whom are females.
  • State-imposed forced labour accounts for 14 per cent, of which nearly one in eight, or 3.3 million, are children.
  • More than half are in commercial sexual exploitation.

What is Modern Slavery?

  • It is a term used to describe situations of exploitative nature in which the person cannot refuse or leave due to threats, violence, deception, and abuse of power.
  • Modern slavery includes exploitative acts such as forced labour and debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking.

Forms of Modern Slavery

Forced Marriage

  • In 2021, an estimated 22 million people were living in forced marriage, representing a 6.6 million increase over 2016 global estimates.
  • The true incidence of forced marriage, particularly involving children aged 16 and younger, is likely far greater than estimates capture since they are based on a narrow definition that excludes some child marriages. They are considered forced because a minor cannot legally consent to marry.
  • Forced marriages are highly context specific as they are linked to long-established patriarchal attitudes and practices.
  • The report shows that more than 85 per cent are driven by family pressure.
  • Based on regional population size, 65 per cent of forced marriages are found in Asia and the Pacific. Arab States have the highest prevalence, with 4.8 out of every 1,000 people in the region in a forced marriage.

Migrant Workers

  • Migrant workers are over three times more likely to be in forced labour than other adult workers.
  • While labour migration has a largely positive effect on individuals, households, communities and societies, irregular or poorly governed migration, or unfair and unethical recruitment practices render migrants particularly vulnerable.

What the Report Recommends for swiftly doing away with Modern Slavery?

  • Improving and enforcing laws and labour inspections; ending State-imposed forced labour; stronger measures to combat forced labour and trafficking; extending social protection, and strengthening legal protections, including raising the legal age of marriage to 18.
  • Addressing the increased risk of trafficking and forced labour for migrant workers, promoting fair and ethical recruitment, and greater support for women, girls and vulnerable individuals.
  • Reducing the vulnerability of migrants to forced labour and trafficking in persons depends first and foremost on national policy and legal frameworks that respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants – and potential migrants – at all stages of the migration process, regardless of their migration status.
  • All of society must work together to “reverse these shocking trends,’ including through implementation of the Global Compact on Migration.

Global Compact on Migration

  • The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is the first intergovernmental agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner.
  • It was adopted at an intergovernmental conference on migration in Marrakesh, Morocco on 10 December 2018.
  • The Global Compact is an important framework for improved migration governance that puts migrants and their human rights at the centre and that provides a significant opportunity to strengthen human rights protection for all migrants, regardless of status.
  • The Global Compact is grounded in international human rights law and reaffirms States’ commitment to respecting, protecting, and fulfilling all human rights for all migrants. The Global Compact rests on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and each of the nine core international human rights law instruments, and contains a Guiding Principle on human rights.

Law Related to Slavery in India

  • The Indian Slavery Act, 1843, also known as Act V of 1843 outlawed many economical transactions associated with slavery. The Act, banned slavery in India, made sale, and purchase of any person as a slave a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code.
  • Article 23 of Indian Constitution also mandates Prohibition of Trafficking & Forced Labour. It says, “Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.”
  • Bonded labour is defined in the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act of 1976 as a system of forced or partly forced labour in which a debtor gets an advance of cash or kind in return for his labour or service to the creditor.

Constitutional & Legislative Provisions related to Trafficking in India

Trafficking in Human Beings or Persons is prohibited under the Constitution of India under Article 23 (1)

  • Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA): It is the premier legislation for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Criminal Law (amendment) Act 2013: It has come into force wherein Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code has been substituted with Section 370 and 370A IPC which provide for comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human trafficking including trafficking of children for exploitation in any form including physical exploitation or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude, or the forced removal of organs.
  • Protection of Children from Sexual offences (POCSO) Act, 2012: It has come into effect from 14th November, 2012 is a special law to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. It provides precise definitions for different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative sexual assault, sexual harassment.

Other Acts/Provisions

  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
  • Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
  • Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994

Specific Sections in the IPC

  • Sections 372 and 373 deal with selling and buying of girls for the purpose of prostitution.

Legislation by State Govts.

  • State Governments have also enacted specific legislations to deal with the issue. (e.g. The Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act, 2012)