Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

A theme connecting many religions is “freedom.” On December 2, we should pause to consider how to address the plight of the millions of people who are not free.
A woman from Morocco trapped in forced labor. “Whenever the lady of the house left, she would lock me up for hours in the veranda, with only one small bottle of water.”

Slavery is not merely a historical relic. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery. Although modern slavery is not defined in law, it is used as an umbrella term covering practices such as forced labor, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.

In addition, more than 150 million children are subject to child labor, accounting for almost one in ten children around the world.

Facts and figures:

  • An estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.
  • There are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world.
  • 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
  • Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million people in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million people in forced labour imposed by state authorities.
  • Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labour, accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors.
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