Skip to content
View Featured Image

Number Of Victims And Illegal Profits From Forced Labor Has Increased

Above photo: ILO.

A report from the International Labour Organization.

Forced labor in the private economy generates over $236 billion annually in illegal profits which is USD 64 billion (37%) more than the USD 172 billion a decade ago.

A new study conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) claims that both the number of people engaged in some kind of forced labor and illegal profits incurred from that have increased dramatically in the last decade. ILO claims that forced labor in the private economy generates over $236 billion annually in illegal profits which is USD 64 billion (37%) more than USD 172 billion a decade ago.

Forced labor is defined as all kinds of “work that is both involuntary and under penalty or menace of penalty (coercion)” extracted by an individual, private player or a state. It is also closely linked to human trafficking across international borders and is called “modern day slavery” by the ILO.

Gilbert F Houngbo, ILO’s Director General, noted that “People in forced labor are subjected to multiple forms of coercion, the deliberate and systematic withholding of wages being amongst the most common.”

The ILO includes anyone working overtime without adequate compensation or without being paid the minimum wages required as per the law into the category of forced labor.

The latest report is titled Profits and Poverty: the Economics of Forced Labour. It claims that “traffickers and criminals” are able to generate increased per capita profit from a victim of forced labor — from USD 8,269 in 2014 to USD 10,000 now.

The reasons cited for this rise are an increase in the number of people who are trafficked and forced to work, as well as an increase in the tendency to exploit the victims. The rise in the vulnerable workforce can be attributed to increasing impoverishment and conflicts across the world, a situation exploited by private capital for maximizing their profits even if it’s illegal.

According to the ILO, in 2021 over 27.6 million people across the world were engaged in forced labor every day. This means that 3.5 people of every 1,000 were engaged in forced labor of some kind.

This number is increasing. The ILO claims that between 2016 and 2021, the number of people engaged in forced labor increased by 2.7 million.

The report gives a region-wise breakup of the total illegal profit from forced labor and Europe and Central Asia come at the top with a share of over USD 84 billion. Asia and Pacific is second with a share of USD 62 billion with the Americas coming third at USD 52 billion.

The overall share in illegal profit from forced labor is the lowest in Africa (USD 20 billion) and Arabia (USD 18 billion).

Forced commercial sexual exploitation accounts for more than two-thirds of total illegal profits at around USD 173 billion (73%) according to the ILO study. The Industrial sector is a distant second with over USD 35 billion.

“Forced labor perpetuates cycles of poverty and exploitation and strikes at the heart of human dignity” Houngbo underlined. He noted that instead of improving, the situation has worsened with time and therefore the international community “must urgently come together to take action to end this injustice, safeguard workers rights and uphold the principles of fairness and equality for all.”

Sign Up To Our Daily Digest

Independent media outlets are being suppressed and dropped by corporations like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our daily email digest before it’s too late so you don’t miss the latest movement news.