Although the slave trade was abolished over 200 years ago, many millions
of people continue to live in slavery today, as forced labourers. Forced labour
takes many forms, including debt bondage and trafficking in people, but it
always involves individuals being compelled to work against their will under the
threat of some form of punishment.
Forced labour can be found on every continent of the world and affects
both developed and developing countries. In 2005, the International Labour
Organization (ILO) estimated that the minimum number of people who are living
in forced labour is 12.3 million.
One of the primary goals of the ILO is to promote opportunities for women and
men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom and human
dignity. Forced labour makes this impossible as it involves the violation of a
person’s basic human and labour rights. Forced labour is the very antithesis
of decent work and this is why the ILO identified the elimination of forced and
compulsory labour as one of the fundamental principles and rights at work that
all ILO members have to respect.
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