what is modern day slavery?

There are more people in slavery today than at any time in human history.



It isn’t legal anywhere but happens almost everywhere—including Europe and the U.S. 

There are tens of millions of people trapped in various forms of slavery throughout the world today.Researchers estimate that 21 million are enslaved worldwide, generating $150 billion each year in illicit profits for traffickers.

  • Labor Slavery. About 78 percent are in forced labor slavery in industries where manual labor is needed—such as farming, ranching, logging, mining, fishing, and brick making—and in service industries working as dish washers, janitors, gardeners, and maids.
  • Sex Slavery. About 22 percent are trapped in forced prostitution sex slavery.
  • Child Slavery. About 26 percent of today’s slaves are children.

Slavery today is a hidden crime, making it harder for the public to see and for those in slavery to call out for help.

Slavery statistics come from the U.N. International Labor Organization. 


    Slavery flows into our homes, closets, offices, and schools through many of the products we buy. Slaves harvest cocoa in West Africa, and it ends up in our chocolate. Slaves make charcoal in Brazil, which is used to run smelters that make steel for our cars. Many food products and raw materials are tainted by slavery—such as cotton, tomatoes, tuna, shrimp, diamonds, iron, sugar, and gold. 

    We all have a role to play in bringing slavery to an end. Although there are more people in slavery today than ever before, slavery represents the smallest percentage of the world’s population than at any other time in history.

    There was a time when slavery was legal, and people considered it morally acceptably and economically essential. The battle to build a global consensus that slavery is unjust and unneeded has been won. Now we need to finish the job by freeing those still trapped in bondage.