New ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour: 20.9 million victims

Today sees the launch of a new ILO global estimate of forced labour – a shocking 20.9 million women, men and children are trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave. Our estimate captures the full realm of forced labour and human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation, or what some call “modern-day slavery”. The figure means that, at any given point in time, around three out of every 1,000 persons worldwide are suffering in forced labour.

News | 01 June 2012

New ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour: 20.9 million victims

June 1st 2012 sees the launch of a new ILO global estimate of forced labour – a shocking 20.9 million women, men and children are trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave. The figure means that, at any given point in time, around three out of every 1,000 persons worldwide are suffering in forced labour.

The new estimate updates the one we produced seven years ago, in 2005. Though using the same basic statistical approach as in 2005, the methodology has since been revised and improved, which has given us a more robust figure this time.

Some highlights of the results:

18.7 million (90%) people are in forced labour in the private economy, exploited by individuals or enterprises. Out of these, 4.5 million (22%) are in forced sexual exploitation, and 14.2 million (68%) in forced labour exploitation in activities such as agriculture, construction, domestic work and manufacturing.

Women and girls represent the greater share of forced labour victims – 11.4 million (55%), as compared to 9.5 million (45%) men and boys.

Adults are more affected than children – 74% (15.4 million) of victims fall in the age group of 18 years and above, whereas children are 26% of the total (or 5.5 million child victims).

2.2 million (10%) work in state-imposed forms of forced labour, for example in prisons under conditions which violate ILO standards, or in work imposed by the state military or by rebel armed forces.

We are pleased to let you know that today we are also releasing a new revised edition of our guidelines on surveys to estimate forced labour at national level, entitled “Hard to see, harder to count”. This represents one step towards helping countries gather better data on which to base their national policy responses.

We have prepared a range of documents which will provide you with useful information about the new estimate, how it was produced and what it means. They can be accessed by clicking on the links below.

A technical report, which contains the results of the global estimate and a detailed presentation of the methodology used to obtain them.

An executive summary of the report.

A Q&A presenting answers to common questions about the figures and about forced labour.

A global factsheet giving an easy-to-use graphic presentation of the main results, including the regional breakdown of absolute numbers and of prevalence (number of victims per 1000 inhabitants)

“Hard to see, harder to count” Survey guidelines to estimate forced labour of adults and children”. Detailed “how-to” guidance on implementing national surveys to gather quantitative data on forced labour.

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