UN says forced labour, trafficking, 'modern slavery' generate profits of $150 billion a year

The Associated Press
May 20, 2014 05:34 AM

FILE - In this April 25, 2014 file picture California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who as a prosecutor once specialized in child sexual assault cases addresses the Domestic Human Trafficking symposium in Los Angeles, Trafficking, forced labor and modern slavery are big business generating profits estimated at $150 billion a year, the U.N. labor agency said Tuesday May 20, 2014. The report by the International Labor Organization finds global profits from involuntary workers _ an estimated 21 million of them _ have more than tripled over the past decade from its estimate of at least $44 billion in 2005. ILO Director Guy Ryder said his agency’s report Tuesday calls attention to the need “to eradicate this fundamentally evil, but hugely profitable practice as soon as possible.” (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes,File)

GENEVA - Trafficking, forced labour and modern slavery are big business generating profits estimated at $150 billion a year, the U.N. labour agency said Tuesday.

The report by the International Labor Organization finds global profits from involuntary workers — an estimated 21 million of them — have more than tripled over the past decade from its estimate of at least $44 billion in 2005.

ILO Director Guy Ryder said his agency's report Tuesday calls attention to the need "to eradicate this fundamentally evil, but hugely profitable practice as soon as possible."

Two-thirds of the profits come from sexual exploitation, it says, and one third is the result of "forced economic exploitation" that includes domestic and agricultural workers.

With poorer and less-educated people more vulnerable to exploitation, Ryder said his agency "for the first time provides solid evidence for a correlation between forced labour and poverty" by taking a look at both the supply and demand for workers.

"We need to strengthen social protection floors to prevent households from sliding into the poverty that pushes people into forced labour," he said. "We need to improve levels of education and literacy so that household decision-makers can understand their own vulnerability to forced labour and know their rights as workers.

It says 55 per cent of the victims are women and girls, primarily in commercial sexual exploitation and domestic work, while men and boys were primarily in forced economic exploitation in agriculture, construction and mining.


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