This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
A new report estimates the cost
of forced labor. Millions of workers worldwide are denied more than twenty billion
dollars a year in wages. And that does not even include people forced to work
in the sex industry.
The report is by the International Labor
Organization. The United Nations agency gives two main reasons for what it
calls "the cost of coercion."
First, people in forced labor situations receive wages that
are lower, sometimes far lower, than the market rate. Long hours of overtime
work may go unpaid or underpaid. Also, victims may be overcharged for their
housing, food and other items.
second major cost mainly involves human trafficking. It includes the money that
workers pay to be taken to another country.
Four years ago, the labor agency estimated
that more than twelve million people were in some form of forced labor. About
two and a half million cases were the result of trafficking.
earlier report estimated profits from trafficking alone at more than thirty billion
dollars a year. It said criminals earned all but four billion of that from the
Experts say Asia has three-fourths of all forced
laborers. A million are in Latin America and the Caribbean. But the problem
affects almost all countries. Around fifty-six percent of people in forced
labor are women and girls. Forty to fifty percent are under the age of
Most countries have laws that make forced labor a
serious crime. Yet the new report says in Africa, for example, it has generally
received limited attention. Sometimes there is a strong focus on slavery but
weak punishments, says I.L.O. official Roger Plant. He says child labor is an
especially serious problem in West African countries.
Around the world, industries such as agriculture and
the building trades are commonly considered at risk of forced labor. They have lots
of temporary work and difficult conditions. But the report says the risk
extends to all kinds of industries with long supply chains for the goods used
in their products. Huge companies might not use forced labor, but they might
work with smaller ones that do.
Why would people take a chance on getting
involved with forced labor? The International Labor Organization points to
increases in the unemployed, the working poor and people whose jobs are likely
to be cut. In such times of economic crisis, it says, people take more risks.
And that's the VOA Special English Development Report,
written by Jerilyn Watson, with Lisa Schlein in Geneva. I'm Steve Ember.