New global research: 25 million trapped in forced labour and sexual exploitation

The number of people trapped in forced labour, domestic servitude and forced sexual exploitation is estimated to be 24.9 million, according to updated research released today.

The ‘Global Estimates of Modern Slavery’ report, based on joint research by the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO), the Walk Free Foundation and the International Organization for Migration, suggests that a further 15.4 million people are trapped in forced marriage, which it refers to as a form of modern slavery.

More detail in the press release extract below, courtesy of the ILO:

New research developed jointly by the ILO and the Walk Free Foundation , in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has revealed the true scale of modern slavery around the world.

The data, released during the United Nations General Assembly, shows that more than 40 million people around the world were victims of modern slavery in 2016.

The new estimates also show that women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, accounting almost 29 million, or 71% of the overall total. Women represent 99% of the victims of forced labour in the commercial sex industry and 84% of forced marriages.

The research reveals that among the 40 million victims of modern slavery, about 25 million were in forced labour, and 15 million were in forced marriage.

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, said: “The message the ILO is sending today – together with our partners in Alliance 8.7 – is very clear: the world won’t be in a position to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals unless we dramatically increase our efforts to fight these scourges. These new global estimates can help shape and develop interventions to prevent both forced labour and child labour.”

Andrew Forrest AO, Chairman and Founder of the Walk Free Foundation said: “The fact that as a society we still have 40 million people in modern slavery, on any given day shames us all. If we consider the results of the last five years, for which we have collected data, 89 million people experienced some form of modern slavery for periods of time ranging from a few days to five years. This speaks to the deep seated discrimination and inequalities in our world today, coupled with a shocking tolerance of exploitation. This has to stop. We all have a role to play in changing this reality – business, government, civil society, every one of us.”

About the data

The new global estimates are a collective effort from members of Alliance 8.7, the global partnership to end forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour that brings together key partners representing governments, UN organisations, the private sector, workers’ and employers’ organizations and civil society in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7.

The 2017 Global Estimates can be found online at

Forced labour

An estimated 25 million people were in forced labour at any moment in time in 2016. Out of them, 16 million people were in forced labour exploitation in the private sector such as domestic work, construction, agriculture. About 5 million persons were in forced sexual exploitation, and just over four million persons (or 16 per cent of the total) were in forced labour imposed by their state authorities.