50 Million in Forced Labor and Forced Marriages

A United Nations report out this week says that 50 million people worldwide are either being held as forced laborers or given into forced marriages. That’s up 10 million from just five years ago as worsening economies in the third world due to war and the pandemic, increases in extreme poverty, unsafe migration, and gender-based violence have underpinned slavery.

There has been an explosion of sex slaves, with more than one in four forced laborers being in the sexual exploitation market. The poor, women, and children are disproportionately vulnerable.

Fox News:

Based on available data, ILO and partners found increases in child and forced marriages in countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Congo, Egypt, India, Uganda and Yemen. But the report said wealthier countries were “not immune” to the problem, with nearly one-in-four forced marriages taking place in high or upper middle-income countries.

Crises including the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and armed conflict have underpinned rises in extreme poverty, unsafe migration, and gender-based violence in recent years, raising the risk of all forms of modern slavery, it said.

All told, more than 2/3 of all forced marriages were found in the Asia-Pacific region – the world’s most populous region – but the highest number per capita came in Arab countries where nearly 5 in 1,000 people were in forced marriages.

Eighty-five percent of forced marriages were the result of “family pressure.” But many of those “brides” are younger than 15, with some as young as 9.

The reason for the increase in slaves is a matter of poverty.


The fact that things are getting worse is down to a complex mix of “compounding crises”, the report says – all of which come together to increase poverty and heighten the risk of enslavement.

The Covid-19 pandemic, for example, caused major disruption to people’s income, leading to more debt – which could be leveraged into forced labour in some cases. The ILO says the pandemic has led to an increase in “extreme global poverty” for the first time in 20 years.

War and armed conflict likewise lead to dire circumstances, or the recruitment of children to work or serve as child soldiers; while climate change has forced people to leave their homes and become migrants – immediately placing them at greater risk.

There will always be poor people, regardless of the distribution of wealth and the system used to create it. And there will always be evil people to exploit the weak and the poor. It’s believed that in the wealthy enclaves of major American urban centers, there are young girls and women, in the country illegally working as “domestics,” not being paid a salary or allowed to leave.  Law enforcement is dependent on the general public to inform on their neighbors, which is why so few of these slavers are caught.

Reforming immigration enforcement would be a good first step. Making sure that migrants who receive green cards are legitimate and in no danger of being exploited would address the legitimacy problem. But as long as illegal aliens are brought across the border and trafficked, slavery will continue to be a problem.

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