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Could new slavery numbers complicate efforts to end the global crime?

16 5 1
11.10.2017

Despite being widely hailed as a turning point in the global fight to end modern slavery, a new estimate of the number of people living as slaves worldwide could in fact complicate efforts to tackle the crime, several academics have warned.

About 40 million people were trapped as slaves last year - mostly women and girls - in forced labor and forced marriages, according to the first collaboration by leading anti-slavery groups to count the victims of the lucrative crime worldwide.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), Walk Free Foundation and International Organization for Migration (IOM) jointly agreed on the estimate, having previously used different data, definitions and methodologies to reach their own figures.

But they cautioned this number was a conservative estimate.

Many activists hope the estimate, published last month, will galvanise rights groups and governments as they strive to meet a global goal of eradicating modern slavery by 2030 - part of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted two years ago.

Yet some academics say the limitations of the data, such as a lack of surveys in the Gulf states and conflict-hit nations like Libya and Syria, and the inclusion of forced marriages for the first time, may divide the global anti-slavery movement.

"One of the main problems here is that 'fighting slavery' now means all kinds of different things and relates........

© Japan Today