New York, 19 September 2017 – New research developed jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has revealed the true scale of modern slavery around the world. The data, released during the United Nations General Assembly, shows that more than 40 million people around the world were victims of modern slavery in 2016, including about 25 million in forced labour, and 15 million in forced marriages. The ILO has also released an estimate confirming that about 152 million children, aged between 5 and 17, were subject to child labour.

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 total. Women represent 99 per cent of the victims of forced labour in the commercial sex industry and 84 per cent of forced marriages.

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, said: “The message the ILO is sending today – together with our partners in Alliance 8.7 – is very clear: the world won’t be in a position to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals unless we dramatically increase our efforts to fight these scourges. These new global estimates can help shape and develop interventions to prevent both forced labour and child labour.

Andrew Forrest AO, Chairman and Founder of the Walk Free Foundation, said: “The fact that as a society we still have 40 million people in modern slavery, on any given day shames us all. If we consider the results the last five years, for which we have collected data, 89 million people experienced some form of modern slavery for periods of time ranging from a few days to the whole five years. This speaks to the deep-seated discrimination and inequalities in our world today, coupled with a shocking tolerance of exploitation. This has to stop. We all have a role to play in changing this reality – business, government, civil society, every one of us.”

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The new global estimates, published in the reports ‘Global estimates of modern slavery: Forced labour and forced marriage’, are a collective effort from members of Alliance 8.7, which unites governments, UN organisations, the private sector, workers’ and employers’ organizations and civil society. Its aim is to end forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7.