What is labour exploitation?

Within the field of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery prevention, labour exploitation refers to situations where people are coerced to work for little or no remuneration, often under threat of punishment. There are a number of means through which a person can be coerced, including: 

  • Use of violence or intimidation 
  • Accumulated debt 
  • Retention of identity papers 
  • Threat of exposure to immigration authorities 

All types of labour, within every industry, are susceptible to labour exploitation. It is a worldwide problem whose scope and scale is sometimes difficult to wrap your head around. Here are some key facts and figures from the International Labour Organization. (ILO)

  • There are an estimated 40.3 million people trapped in modern slavery around the world at any given time. Of this 40.3 million, 24.9 million people are estimated to be within situations of forced labour.
  • Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited within the private sector. This includes in fields such as domestic work, construction, and agriculture.
  • 8 million of this 24.9 million are persons suffering forced sexual exploitation.
  • Around 4 million of this 24.9 million are in situations of forced labour imposed by state authorities.
  • Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labour, accounting for 99% of the victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors.

These figures make for pretty bleak reading, and it can often leave us feeling powerless in the face of such widespread exploitation. But we are not powerless, we believe that through our collective action we can shine a light on this exploitation and work to prevent it from happening. So, what can you do about it?