Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking: Myths & Facts

Modern slavery is all around us, but most people don't even realize it. Learn the truth about these common myths and then sign up to end modern slavery for good. SIGN ME UP

MYTH: Slavery is a thing of the past

FACT: No, it is not. Slavery has ancient roots in history and still exists today in many different forms. Human trafficking, bonded labour and forced domestic work are just a few examples. But that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. A coordinated effort by governments and activists around the world could end modern slavery for good. That’s what the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labour is all about.

MYTH: Relatively few people are victims of modern slavery

FACT: There are more people in slavery today than at any other time in history. There are over 21 million children, women and men living in modern slavery, three out of every 1,000 people worldwide. If they all lived together in a single city, it would be one of the biggest cities in the world.


MYTH: Modern slavery only happens in the developing world

FACT: Modern slavery happens everywhere. There are over 1.5 million people working in slavery-like conditions in Europe, North America, Japan and Australia.


MYTH: Sex trafficking accounts for most cases of modern slavery

FACT: Most of the people in slavery work in industries such as agriculture, fishing construction, manufacturing, mining, utilities and domestic work. Around one in five are victims of sexual exploitation.

MYTH: Modern slavery isn’t a big money-maker

FACT: Modern Slavery is huge business. A recent ILO study estimated that modern slavery generates annual profits of over US$ 150 billion, which is as much as the combined profits of the four most profitable companies in the world.


MYTH: Modern slavery doesn’t affect me

FACT: Modern slavery affects everyone.
Even if you’re not a victim of modern slavery, you’re still affected by it. Businesses, for example, face unfair competition from unscrupulous companies who reap the profits of modern slavery. That may put pressure on them to lower wages or cut benefits. Meanwhile governments lose out on precious tax revenue while facing huge legal costs from prosecuting modern-slavery cases-money which could be spent on public services like education, healthcare or public transportation.

MYTH: Most of the money from modern slavery is made in the developing world

FACT: The annual profits per victim of forced labour are far, far higher in developed economies and the European Union than they are anywhere else in the world.


MYTH: There isn’t very much I can do to help people trapped in modern slavery

FACT:You can play a part in the fight to end slavery. It is up to governments to enact and enforce legislation, protect their citizens and ratify the Protocol on Forced Labour. And you can make sure that happens by showing you care.

  1. Sign up to join the 50 for Freedom campaign.
  2. Ask at least two of your friends to sign up too.
  3. Ask your representative to support the Protocol on Forced Labour.

Check out our Campaign Toolkit for more ideas on how to help


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