Modern slavery refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, deception, abuse of power or coercion.
Modern slavery is an umbrella term that covers forced labour, forced marriage and human trafficking. The common thread is that a person is being exploited, and cannot refuse or leave due to threats, violence, coercion, deception, manipulation and/or the abuse of power.
Modern slavery occurs in almost every country in the world, and cuts across ethnic, cultural and religious lines. More than half (52%) of all forced labour and a quarter of all forced marriages can be found in upper-middle income or high-income countries.
The sectors where modern slavery is most prevalent are services, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and domestic work. While women are far more likely than men to be in domestic work, men are much more likely to be put to work in the construction sector.
According to the latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, 50 million people were living in modern slavery in 2021, of which 28 million were in forced labour, 22 million were trapped in forced marriage, and more than 12 million of the total being children. The number of people in modern slavery has risen significantly in the last five years, with an increase of 2.7 million people from 2016 to 2021 and women and girls comprising over half (54%) of those in modern slavery.