UN: Females globally are living in modern slavery

Nearly 30 million women worldwide are victims of modern slavery. This term means forced labor, marriage, debt bondage, and domestic slavery.

Even as it remains true that modern slavery affects everyone, females across the world account for about 71% of all victims, according to a report by the UN.

UN report of ‘Stacked Odds’

Pointing towards modern slavery being mainly a gender issue, the report titled “Stacked Odds” states that power imbalances enable modern slavery. For women and girls, gender inequality and discrimination exacerbate this imbalance.

According to the report, one in every 130 females globally is living in modern slavery. Females account for a staggering 99% of all forced sexual exploitation victims, 84% of all forced marriage victims, and 58% of all victims of forced labor, it added.

What the report says

The report highlighted that girl children continue to have relatively less access to school and medical care in most countries. This misfortune makes women more vulnerable to end up in poverty.

“Women are more inclined to end up in poverty, to work in the riskiest sectors of the informal economy – and ultimately, in modern slavery – than men,” it explained.

Consequently, females outnumber males as victims of modern slavery in four of the five world regions. They also account for 73% of victims in Asia and the Pacific, 71% in Africa, 67% in Europe and Central Asia, and 63 % in the Americas, the UN report states.

Analysis according to regions

Even in the Arab States, lack of data significantly impeded estimates of forced marriages and domestic workers’ forced labor, nearly 40% of all people living in modern slavery are women.

The need to address the disproportionate risk of modern slavery among women and girls has never been more urgent.

Consequently, the report reinforces the need to ensure hearing of the involved survivors’ voices in decision-making to hear their voices. The insights of their lived experience translate into practical solutions.

The action plan by the UN

The report has suggested six points that the countries must include in the action plan.

According to the report, the program must consist of criminalizing all forms of modern slavery.

Alongside this, there should be reform in all countries where laws still enable children to be married. Also, valuing and prioritizing girls’ education as a critical circuit breaker to a lifetime of vulnerability should be a priority.

Others also include challenging cultural norms, such as male preference, restrictions on freedom of movement outside the home. Lack of control over finances and assets allow harmful and exploitative practices to continue as well.

It must also ensure overturning laws and policies that strip women of their rights and agency. Or exacerbation of their vulnerability to sexual violence and exploitation. For example, inheritance rights, land ownership laws, and the kafala system prioritize supply chain transparency to ensure workers are protected.

Conclusively, taking specific action to understand and address the vulnerabilities experienced by women includes protection mechanisms in crises.

Image courtesy of iordani/Shutterstock

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