The number of people living in modern slavery has jumped by 10 million over the past five years, according to latest estimates, putting the total figure at close to 50 million.
The 2021 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery report, released by the International Labour Organisation, Walk Free and the International Organisation for Migration, shows nearly one in every 150 people in the world are living in modern slavery, a term that covers forced labour, child labour, debt bondage, and human trafficking.
World Vision National Director, Grant Bayldon, says the figures are absolutely heart-breaking.
“It is devastating to see such a dramatic rise in the number of people affected by modern slavery. What these numbers don’t readily reveal is the scale of suffering and pain experienced by the children and individuals who are trapped in slavery,” he says.
Shockingly, the report found that more than 3 million children were working in forced labour, with half of those in commercial sexual exploitation (1.7 million children).
“It is devastating to hear of a single child’s life robbed by slavery and sexual exploitation. So to know that 3.3 million children are today in forced labour is overwhelming,” Bayldon says.
“Sadly, recent research has shown that New Zealanders are unwittingly contributing to these insidious crimes, with the average household spending $34 per week on industries that create products implicated in modern slavery.”
The Government is currently considering whether to introduce legislation to address modern slavery which would require all organisations to take action if they become aware of modern slavery in their operations, and to disclose the steps they are taking to eliminate it.
“Throughout the Government’s consultation on the proposed legislation, we have seen overwhelming support from New Zealanders for this law. Businesses and individuals alike are in agreement that there is no place for modern slavery here in Aotearoa, or anywhere,” Bayldon says.
“We commend the Government on the leadership they’ve shown on this issue, and urge them to act with urgency and see this legislation passed immediately given the shocking figures we’ve seen today.”