MEDIA RELEASE: IJM welcomes new data into modern slavery risks

13 September 2022

Leading anti-slavery organisation, International Justice Mission (IJM) Australia has welcomed the release of new data on the scale of modern slavery around the globe. 

The International Labour Organization (ILO), Walk Free and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) data estimates that there are almost 50 million people in slavery in the world today. The report paints a concerning picture regarding the scourge of modern slavery, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. 

Of the 49.6 million people estimated to be in slavery, 27.6 million people are in forced labour, and Asia and the Pacific hosts more than half of the global total (15.1 million) of people in forced labour. 

Further, it revealed that 86 per cent of forced labour cases occur in the private economy, and State-imposed forced labour accounts for the remaining 14 per cent. 

The report also stated that the number of people living in forced marriages has risen globally by 6.6 million to a total of 22 million people between 2016 and 2021. An estimated 14.2 million people in Asia and the Pacific are in forced marriages. 

IJM Australia CEO, Steve Baird said the new data highlights the need for more to be done tackling modern slavery in the region. 

“This data tells a shocking story about the prevalence of modern slavery in our region, and highlights why governments, businesses and NGOs need to be doing more to address it,” Mr Baird said. 

“Modern slavery is a challenging issue to stamp out, particularly in complicated supply chains, but the new Australian Government, in partnership with NGOs like IJM, have the opportunity to step up and get the job done,” Mr Baird said.

“While this is happening in countries outside of Australia, these are our neighbours and it is Australian companies that are often contributing to this issue.  

“We welcome the Government’s review of the Modern Slavery Act and look forward to working with government and business on stronger responses to this scourge, which we know are desperately needed.”

The release of new data, follows the release of IJM research which found that nearly 75 per cent of Australian modern slavery statements either did not satisfy basic reporting obligations or only met the basic reporting obligations. 

Shockingly, nearly 85 per cent of company statements did not indicate a single instance where a company responded to actual or alleged modern slavery in their operations or supply chains. 

“There is a clear gap in corporate Australia’s understanding of both the problem of modern slavery, and how to fix it,” Mr Baird said. 

“IJM Australia stands ready to work with business and government on tackling modern slavery and de-risking the supply chain for Australian corporations.

“This is not only the right thing to do, but ultimately good for Australian businesses.” 

MEDIA:   Nick Trainor 0407 078 138 

Learn more about IJM’s work to combat slavery and violence.

See the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery 2022.

You might also be interested in…