“…Chains be broken… Lives be healed…” Modern-day slavery is hard to quantify because of its illegal and mostly hidden nature.

The UN reports that there are up to 27 million modern day slaves - more than twice the entire number traded over the 400-year history of the Americas slave trade.

Of these, at the very least, 2.4 million are the direct result of human trafficking. 80% of these transnational victims are women and girls who are trafficked solely for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Slavery includes, but isn’t only: forced or bonded labor (agriculture, industrial, construction and hospitality industries), child labor, sexual servitude or forced prostitution, forced military enlistment – as in the case of child soldiers, forced participation in pornography, forced begging, forced drug dealing and selling of counterfeit money.

Exploited by human traffickers and gangs, through blackmail, threats, violence and debt bondage, victims struggle to buy back freedom for themselves and their families.

With the constant threat of violence and long hours of labour for little or no pay, the cycle of poverty often continues as a backbreaking inheritance between generations…

Asia, as a region has the highest number of known forced labor, with a reported 9.5 million slaves.

As with poverty, children are the main victims of bonded labor - people under 18 make up 40% to 50% of all forced labor globally.

There are around 250,000 children currently serving in armed conflicts for both rebel groups and government forces in various Asian countries, parts of Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and most critically in Africa.

A further 158 million to 218 million children aged 5 to 14 are engaged in child labour – that’s at least 1 in 6 children in our world.

Feeding the child labour industry and considered more lucrative a trade than trafficking arms, human trafficking is currently the fastest growing source of profit for gangs and organized crime worldwide. It creates a massive USD$32 billion annually.

With such a large market, illegal cargo is being switched from drugs to human beings in search of a high profit at lower risk. We, as cargo, have the unique advantage of “reuse” value with an average US$13,000 profit gained from each person trafficked into forced labour.

Modern-day slavery however is in no way exclusive to developing countries - there is a known minimum 360,000 forced laborers in industrialized countries. Human trafficked victims are exploited in 137 countries such as Belgium, Italy and the USA among others rated ‘very high’ by the UN as recipient countries of trafficked persons.

But what can we do?

To begin… we can’t overlook slavery as a problem of the past… as though it has already been beaten…

For more info, visit:

International Labour Organization (ILO) Reports

USA Department of State (2007) ‘Trafficking in Persons Report; The Scope and Nature of Modern-Day Slavery’ 

UNICEF, ‘Child Labour’

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: ‘Fact Sheet No.14, Contemporary Forms of Slavery’ 

UN Chronically Online Edition (2005) ‘Slavery in the 21st Century’

ILO (2006) ‘The End of Child Labour, Within Reach’ 

UNODC (2006) ‘Trafficking in Persons; Global Patterns’


UN Chronicle Online Edition (2005) ‘Slavery in the 21st Century’
ILO, ‘About the ILO,’ Press Release
USA Department of State (2007) ‘Trafficking in Persons Report; The Scope and Nature of Modern-Day Slavery,’ Pp8
Amnesty USA, ‘Child Soldiers’
Human Rights Watch (2006) ‘Children’s Rights’ in Child Soldiers
Coalition to stop the use of child soldiers (2007) ‘Some Facts’ in Child Soldiers
UNICEF, ‘Child Labour’
International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (2006) ‘Global Child Labour Trends 2000-2004’ in International Labour Office
UNGIFT (2008) ‘Opening Statement by Ursula Plassnik, Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs,' 13 February 2008
UN Habitat (2007) ‘Crime and Violence; facts and figures,’ Pp1

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