Private sector generates 236bn dollars in annual profits from forced labour

Forced labour in the private sector generates 236 billion dollars in illicit profits each year, according to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The total amount of illicit profits from forced labour has increased by 37 per cent since 2014, due to an increase in the number of people forced to work and higher profits from exploiting victims.

The ILO report estimates that traffickers and criminals earn nearly 10,000 dollars per victim, up from 8,269 dollars a decade ago. Total annual illicit profits from forced labour are highest in Europe and Central Asia (84 billion), followed by Asia-Pacific (62 billion), the Americas (52 billion), Africa (20 billion) and the Arab states (18 billion).

Sexual exploitation

Forced commercial sexual exploitation accounts for 73 per cent of total illicit gains, although its victims represent only 27 per cent of the total number of victims of forced labour. The sector with the second highest annual illicit profits is manufacturing, at 35 billion dollars, followed by services (20.8 billion), agriculture (5.0 billion) and domestic work (2.6 billion).

On any given day in 2021, 28 million people were forced to work, equivalent to 3.5 people for every 1,000 people in the world. Between 2016 and 2021, the number of people in forced labour increased by 2.7 million.

Enforcement measures

The report highlights the urgent need to invest in enforcement measures to stop illicit flows and hold perpetrators accountable, the ILO says. It recommends strengthening legal frameworks, training enforcement officials, extending labour inspections to high-risk sectors and improving coordination between labour and criminal law enforcement.

The EU is already stepping up its fight against forced labour. This month, the Commission, Parliament and member states agreed on a proposal that would make it possible to ban products produced by forced labour from the European market, and hold the involved companies accountable.



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