“Global Estimates of Modern Slavery” report

The 2021 Global Estimates for Modern Slavery, which was recently released by the International Labour Organization (ILO), revealed a spike in the instances of forced labour.


  • In 2021, 50 million people were living in modern slavery, of which 28 million were in forced labour and 22 million were trapped in forced marriage.
  • The number of people in modern slavery has increased exponentially in the past five years.
  • Compared to the 2016 global estimates, 10 million more people have been trapped by modern slavery.
  • Women and children are disproportionately vulnerable to modern slavery.
  • Modern slavery occurs in almost all countries across the world, regardless of differences in ethnicity, culture and religion.
  • Forced Labour: 52 per cent of all forced labour are found in upper-middle or high-income countries. 86 per cent of forced labour are found in private sector. Forced labour in sectors other than commercial sexual exploitation accounts for 63 per cent of all forced labour.
  • Forced marriage: An addition of 6.6 million people are victims of forced marriage in 2021 when compared to 2016 global estimates. More than 85 per cent of forced marriage is caused by family pressure. Its prevalence is highest in Arab states.
  • Migrant workers are more than three times likely to be in forced labour than non-migrant adult workers. This is because of poorly governed migration or unethical recruitment practices.
  • Recommendations: Improving and enforcing laws and labour inspections, ending state-imposed forced labour, social protection, and promoting fair and ethical recruitment and targeted support for women, girl and vulnerable communities.


The ILO is a UN agency involved in the promotion of social and economic justice by setting up international labour standards. It was founded in October 1919 under the League of Nations, the predecessor of the UN.




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