According to a recent report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Walk Free Foundation and the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM), around 50 million people worldwide were affected by forced labour in 2021. Since the last survey in 2017, the number of people affected had increased by 25%.
The survey is based largely on estimates and extrapolations, as verifiable figures are not available from all regions and countries. The estimates are based on a definition of "modern slavery" that includes other forms of violence and exploitation in addition to forced labour and forced marriage. Forced labour includes forced labour in the private sector, forced sexual exploitation of adults and commercial sexual exploitation of children, as well as state-imposed forced labour.
This survey method and definition results in high numbers that sometimes deviate greatly from other statistical surveys. According to the report (in the survey period 2017 to 2021), 28 million people were affected by forced labour and 22 million by forced marriages. Although the majority of forced labour is in the private sector, it is estimated that 3.9 million people are affected by state forced labour. According to the report, migrants are particularly affected by forced labour and human trafficking.
To counter global trends, the report proposes a number of measures, including improved legislation and labour inspections, more stringent measures to combat trafficking and forced labour in business relationships and supply chains, the expansion and improvement of social protection and better protection for particularly vulnerable groups, such as migrants, women and girls.