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ILO, WFF, IOM report on modern slavery and forced child labourers in 2016

NEW YORK – In 2016,  over 40 million people were treated as slaves and about 152 million children were forced to work according to two reports released on 19 Sept 2017 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with the Walk Free Foundation (WFF) in partnership with the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (12-25 Sept 2017) here.

According to experts, at least 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016, as forced labourers as well as sex and domestic workers.

With respect to children, most of those aged 5 to 17 engaged in child labour were found in Africa (72.1 million), followed by the Asia-Pacific region (62 million).

“Forced labourers produced some of the food we eat and the clothes we wear, and they have cleaned the buildings in which many of us live or work,” the groups said in a report released on Tuesday.

Forced marriage, which is widespread in Muslim majority South Asian countries, is included for the first time in worldwide statistics.

Some 15.4 million people, mostly women, are forced into marriage, a figure that probably underestimates the problem. More than a third of them are underage at the time of marriage.

The new estimates also show that women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, accounting for almost 29 million, or 71 per cent of the overall figure.

Women represent 99 per cent of the victims of the sex industry and 84 per cent of forced marriages.

An estimated 25 million people were in forced labour at any moment in time in 2016. Out of them, 16 million people were in forced labour exploitation in the private sector such as domestic work, construction, agriculture.

The causes of exploitation range from poverty to the need to repay debts. The report notes that the problem is widespread in all countries.

The second report released Sept 19 on child labour contains frightening figures: 152 million children – 64 million girls and 88 million boys – are subject to child labour and account for almost one in ten children around the world.

Approximately one-third of children aged 5 to 14 engaged in child labour are outside the education system, 38 percent of children are in hazardous work aged 5 to 14 and almost two-thirds of those aged 15-17 work more than 43 hours per week.

These kids cannot get an education and build a better future for themselves.

On Sept 12, Msgr Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, said: “It is time to move from law to action because contemporary forms of slavery, servitude, human trafficking and forced labor, must be addressed at the root.  New forms of slavery must be abolished just like the abolition of slavery in the ancient world: adopting a new vision of the human being and of its dignity through laws, education and the conversion of minds”.

Msgr Jurkovič concluded his speech by saying that “we must all be aware of these dramatic situations and work to eradicate the new and atrocious forms of human slavery. It is increasingly evident that today we are faced with a global phenomenon.”

The 72nd United Nations General Assembly will celebrate the concluding session on Sept 19-25. –AsiaNews/agencies/news.va

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