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Human Trafficking: Forced Labor and Exploitation


The International Labour Organisation (ILO) captures the full spectrum of human rights abuses committed under human trafficking such as forced and exploitative labour of adults and children, and that includes sexual exploitation as well. Forced labour and exploitation affects all population groups and age ranges, from women and girls to boys and men. However, women and girls are slightly more at risk, with 55% of the 21 million estimated victims of forced labour being women and girls. Additionally, women and girls are predominately the victims of sexual exploitation, which accounts for 22% of all victims, according to the ILO.

The victims of forced labour are frequently drawn from minority or socially excluded groups: many are migrant workers or poor seasonal workers who move from rural to urban areas in search of work. A victim does not have to physically cross an international border in order to be considered trafficked: some 42% of detected victims of trafficking are done so domestically and at a regional perspective, most victims are trafficked within their region, according to the U.N. Office of on Drug and Crime 2016

Children make up around one quarter of all victims trafficked into forced and exploitative labour, according to the ILO; child labour is present in every region, with a large predominance in Asia.

The ILO defines “child labour” as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that is dangerous and harmful to a child’s mental, physical, social, or moral wellbeing; and work that interferes with a child’s schooling.

The global number of children in child labour has declined by one third since 2000, from 246 million to 168 million children. However, Asia and the Pacific still maintain the largest numbers: almost 78 million children in that region are in child labour. Agriculture remains by far the most prevalent sector where child labourers can be found, with 98 million globally; this is followed by labour in services with 54 million and industry at 12 million. Child labourers are found mostly in the informal economy, according to the ILO.

Images courtesy of Alliance 8.7

Follow or contribute to our conversation on human trafficking using the hashtag #seemefreeme.

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