GS Paper - 2 (Social Issues)

Around 50 million people globally were living in “modern slavery” in 2021, according to a report by the UN, which said that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased risk of forced marriages in countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Egypt.

More about the report

  1. The Global Estimates Of Modern Slavery’, a report published by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and international human rights group Walk Free, said 50 million people were living in modern slavery in 2021. Of these, 28 million were in forced labour and 22 million trapped in forced marriage.
  2. Forced marriages take place in every region in the world. Nearly two-thirds of all forced marriages, an estimated 14.2 million people, are in Asia and the Pacific.
  3. This is followed by 14.5 per cent in Africa (3.2 million) and 10.4 per cent in Europe and Central Asia (2.3 million), the report said.
  4. It noted that when regional population is accounted for, the Arab States is the region with the highest prevalence at 4.8 per thousand people, followed by Asia and the Pacific at 3.3 per thousand.
  5. Forced labour in sectors other than commercial sexual exploitation accounts for 63 per cent of all forced labour, while forced commercial sexual exploitation represents 23 per cent of all forced labour.
  6. Child marriages are considered to be forced because a child cannot legally give consent to marry, the report said. It added that forced marriage is closely linked to long-established patriarchal attitudes and practices and is highly context specific.
  7. The overwhelming majority of forced marriages (more than 85 per cent) were driven by family pressure.

The report proposes a number of recommended actions

  1. The report proposes a number of recommended actions which, taken together and swiftly, would mark significant progress towards ending modern slavery.
  2. These include: improving and enforcing laws and labour inspections; ending state-imposed forced labour; stronger measures to combat forced labour and trafficking in business and supply chains; extending social protection, and strengthening legal protections, including raising the legal age of marriage to 18 without exception.
  3. Other measures include addressing the increased risk of trafficking and forced labour for migrant workers, promoting fair and ethical recruitment, and greater support for women, girls and vulnerable individuals.