What is Modern Slavery?

Learn the definitions, the different forms, and why it’s so difficult to root out. Watch this short video lesson, then join the call for change.

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  • An estimated 40 million people are in modern slavery all over the world. This generates an estimated $150 billion in illegal profits every year, making forced labor the second largest international crime.
  • Bonded labour or debt bondage is when a workers’ labor is demanded to repay a loan. The person is usually coerced into working long after the loan is repaid. Often, the debt is passed on to the next generation.
  • Forced labor is any work which people are forced to do against their will. 16 million, or 64% of of people in forced labor are in the private economy, exploited by individuals or enterprises. According to the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) there are 24,900,000 people in forced labour.
  • Child slavery is one of the most shocking forms of slavery. Worldwide it is estimated that that one in four victims of slavery are children. Children’s labour is exploited in many jobs, including physical labor and domestic slavery.
  • Live-in migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation because, confined to a private home, they are isolated from protections offered in a regular workplace.
  • Child marriage can be another form of slavery, if the following three elements are present: if either party hasn’t given their free and informed consent, if either party is being subjected to control and a sense of ownership, and if either party cannot realistically leave or end the marriage. Servile marriage can affect adults too.
  • Human trafficking is the act of recruiting or transferring a person by means of coercion, abduction or deception for the purpose of exploitation. Although most people assume sexual exploitation to be the most common reason for trafficking people, it is in fact for forced labor.

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To call on United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to prioritize the abolition of slavery in the Sustainable Development Goals, a document which other countries will be encouraged to sign.  At the start of the Sustainable

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To encourage the World Bank to use its leverage with the government of Uzbekistan by suspending loans to companies in the World-Bank-funded project areas that use forced labor and that persecute human rights defenders. There had been a

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Related efforts

Engage with this issue by taking action on current advocacy campaigns, or reading through past ones.

We have already waited decades for this tough new global standard against forced labor. The people trapped on farms, in mines, in factories and in all the other places where forced labor flourishes shouldn’t have to wait while our

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We have a groundbreaking opportunity to encourage one of the largest intergovernmental associations in the world to take up the cause of modern slavery – and we need you to get involved. The Commonwealth is a union of 52 countries around

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