It is a myth that slavery is a thing of the past. More people are trapped in slavery today than at any other time in history; more accurately, there are over 21 million children, women and men living in modern slavery. That means 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.
A common belief is that modern slavery, which annually generates illegal profits of over US$ 150 billion, only takes place in the developing world. Modern slavery can be found everywhere – there are for example over 1.5 million people working in slavery-like conditions in Europe, North America, Japan and Australia.
Many of the millions of people around the world, who remain trapped in situations of servitude and contemporary slavery, are children.
In a statement ahead of the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery on 2 December, two United Nations human rights experts warn; “Slavery’s devastating effects must be fought by steps including rehabilitation and better education, and by making sure children know about their rights.”
The two experts – chair of the UN Voluntary Fund on contemporary forms of slavery, Ms. Nevena Vučković-Šahović, and UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Ms. Urmila Bhoola – explain: “In our work, we invariably see that children are particularly vulnerable to contemporary forms of slavery, including the worst forms of child labour, forced child marriage, child domestic servitude and instances of girls being forced into sexual slavery. Whilst patterns of violations differ between countries and regions, they are united by the extreme exploitation of vulnerable children and by a devastating and lasting impact on the lives of these children.”
Target 8.7 of the UN SDG’s calls on the global community to ‘take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms’.
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