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ILO: Illegal profits from forced labor have risen sharply

Illegal profits from forced labor are increasing rapidly according to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO). It estimates the profits of exploiters at 236 billion dollars a year, as the organization reported in Geneva on Tuesday.

This is 37 percent more than in 2014, based on figures from 2021. Two thirds of the profits came from forced prostitution. According to the EU Coordinator for Combating Human Trafficking, Diane Schmitt, the increase is alarming, but could also be explained by the fact that forced labor is better monitored and recognized.

Profit refers to the difference between what people were paid and what they would have been entitled to under proper working conditions. The increase is due both to the growing number of people affected and to the fact that profits per person have risen. These are particularly high in the Europe and Central Asia region, which includes a good 50 countries from Iceland to Turkey and Russia.

Nearly 28 million employees

The ILO defines forced labor as "any work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily".

On any given day in 2021, 27.6 million people worldwide would have been in forced labor, for example in mines, agriculture or domestic work, statistically 3.5 people per 1,000 inhabitants of the earth. 6.3 million of them were forced into prostitution. According to ILO figures, the total number was 2.7 million higher than five years previously. More than half of those affected live in the Asia and Pacific region (15.1 million). The Europe/Central Asia region was in second place with 4.1 million.

Better monitoring

"Forced labor perpetuates the cycle of poverty and exploitation and touches the core of human dignity," said ILO Director-General Gilbert Houngbo. The ILO is calling for better monitoring of economic sectors susceptible to exploitation and insists that exploiters are consistently held accountable.

The ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations in which governments, employers and employees are represented.


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