50 million people lived in 'modern slavery' last year: UN

United Nations General Assembly Hall. [Image for representational purpose only]
United Nations General Assembly Hall. [Image for representational purpose only]Wikimedia/ Basil D Soufi

Geneva: The UN labour agency estimates that some 50 million people worldwide were living in modern slavery -- either in forced labour or marriage -- at the end of last year, marking a 25% jump from its previous report five years ago.

The International Labour Organisation and partners point to worrying trends such as commercial sexual exploitation affecting nearly one in four people who are subject to forced labour and with the poor, women and children hardest hit.

ILO, along with the UN's International Organisation for Migration and the Walk Free foundation -- a rights group that focuses on modern slavery -- reported that 28 million people were in forced labour and 22 in forced marriages at the end of 2021.

The report released Monday said such figures marked an increase of 10 million people living in modern slavery since the last such report was published in 2017, based on figures a year earlier. Two-thirds of the increase pertained to forced marriages alone, it said.

Based on available data, ILO and partners found increases in child and forced marriages in countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Congo, Egypt, India, Uganda and Yemen.

But the report said wealthier countries were not immune to the problem, with nearly one-in-four forced marriages taking place in high or upper-middle-income countries. (AP)

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