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The United Nations reports that criminals are raking in billions of dollars annually from the sex trade and slavery

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The United Nations labor agency recently shared some alarming news: illegal profits from forced labor worldwide have surged to a shocking $236 billion every year. The International Labor Organization (ILO) calls this figure “shameful” and highlights that three-fourths of these profits come from sexual exploitation. This exploitative practice not only takes away wages from migrants but also displaces legal workers and helps criminals avoid paying taxes.

The ILO’s study for 2021 shows a 37% increase in these illegal profits compared to ten years ago. This rise is due to more people being exploited and each victim generating higher earnings. The report straightforwardly states that “$236 billion. This is the shameful level of yearly profit made from forced labor worldwide,” showing the huge amount taken from workers, migrant payments, and government taxes.

Forced labor not only promotes corruption and strengthens criminal networks but also keeps people trapped in poverty and exploitation, robbing them of their dignity. Gilbert Houngbo, the director-general of the ILO, urges countries to work together to tackle this widespread issue, emphasizing the different ways victims are forced to work, including not being paid for their labor.

Forced labor is defined as work imposed on individuals against their will, often with threats or punishments, at various stages of employment. The study estimates that around 27.6 million people were trapped in forced labor on any given day in 2021, with over half of these cases found in the Asia-Pacific region.

Most victims (85%) experienced privately imposed forced labor, including practices like slavery and bonded labor. Sexual exploitation, affecting over one-fourth of victims worldwide, accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total profits. Shockingly, almost four out of five victims of forced commercial sexual exploitation were girls or women, and children made up more than a quarter of all cases.

Forced labor occurs in various industries, such as manufacturing and services, and while it generates fewer profits compared to sexual exploitation, it still significantly contributes to illegal earnings. This shows how forced labor is a widespread issue affecting different sectors worldwide.