UN Report: Criminals Raking in Billions Annually from Sex Trade, Slavery

Criminals Raking in Billions Annually from Sex Trade, Slavery
International Labour Organization Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo attends the opening of the 111th international Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, June 5, 2023 - Copyright © africanews Pierre Albouy/' KEYSTONE / Pierre Albouy

UN Report: Criminals Raking in Billions Annually from Sex Trade, Slavery

The United Nations labor agency, the International Labor Organization (ILO), revealed a staggering increase in illegal profits from forced labor worldwide, reaching a staggering $236 billion annually. This figure, described as “obscene” by the ILO, represents a significant rise of 37%, or $64 billion, compared to the organization’s previous estimate published a decade ago. The increase is attributed to both a larger number of individuals being exploited and higher earnings generated from each victim.

Forced labor, defined as work imposed against the will of the employee and enforced under threat or penalty, is a pervasive issue contributing to corruption, strengthening criminal networks, and perpetuating cycles of poverty and exploitation. According to ILO Director-General Gilbert Houngbo, individuals subjected to forced labor suffer various forms of coercion, including the deliberate withholding of wages, which undermines human dignity and perpetuates poverty.

The report highlights that forced labor occurs across various sectors, with sexual exploitation accounting for three-fourths of the total profits, amounting to nearly $173 billion. This alarming figure underscores the significant profits derived from exploiting victims through sexual exploitation, particularly women and girls, who make up the majority of victims in such cases.

Additionally, forced labor is prevalent in other sectors, including industry, services, agriculture, and domestic work. While sexual exploitation yields the highest profits, forced labor in industry follows at $35 billion, with services, agriculture, and domestic work contributing to the remaining profits.

The report underscores the urgent need for international cooperation to combat forced labor and its associated human rights violations. By addressing the root causes of forced labor and implementing comprehensive strategies to protect vulnerable individuals, governments and stakeholders can work together to eradicate this pervasive form of exploitation and uphold the rights and dignity of all workers worldwide.


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