Report: 29 million girls, women victims of modern slavery

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - A new report estimates that 29 million women and girls are victims of modern day slavery exploited through practices such as forced labor, forced marriage, bonded labor and domestic bondage.
Grace Forrest, co-founder of the anti-slavery organization Walk Free, said Friday that one in 130 women and girls are living in modern slavery today, more than the population of Australia.
"The reality is that there are more people living in slavery today than ever before in human history," she said at a news conference in the United States.
Walk Free defines modern slavery as "the systematic abolition of one person's liberty, in which one person is exploited by another for personal or financial gain," she said.
Forrest said the global estimate of one in 130 women and girls living in modern slavery was due to the work of Walk Free, the International Labor Organization and the International Organization for Migration, both US agencies.
"What this report showed is that gender stacks the odds against girls from conception throughout their lives," she said.
According to the report, titled Stacked Odds, women account for 99% of all victims of forced sexual exploitation, 84% of all victims of forced marriage and 58% of all victims of forced labor.
Forrest said the face of modern slavery had "changed radically".
"We see normalized exploitation of our economy in transnational supply chains and also in migration paths," she said. "The world's most vulnerable people have been pushed even further into this practice of modern slavery because of COVID-19."
She said the estimate of women and girls in modern slavery is conservative because it does not take into account the events during the pandemic, which "saw forced and child marriage soar and working conditions exploited worldwide."
Forrest says Walk Free and the United States' Every Woman Every Child program are launching a global campaign to call for action to eradicate modern slavery.
The campaign calls for an end to child and forced marriage, which 136 countries have not yet criminalized.
She is pushing for the elimination of legalized systems of exploitation such as kefala, which legally tie a migrant worker's immigration status to an employer or sponsor for the duration of the contract.
The campaign also calls for transparency and accountability for multinational companies.
"We know that women and girls experience unprecedented levels of exploitation and forced labor in the supply chains of the goods we buy and use every day - clothing, coffee, technology," said Forest.

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