Asia Pacific: Commentary: Modern slavery in Asia Pacific is fuelled by widespread poverty, migration & weak governance

Author: Neena Bhandari, Inter Press Service, Published on: 21 May 2020

"Modern Slavery in Asia Pacific Fuelled by Widespread Poverty, Migration & Weak Governance", 15 May 2020

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Joint research by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Walk Free Foundation, and the International Organisation for Migration shows that more than 40 million people around the world were victims of modern slavery in 2016, out of which 24.9 million were in forced labour.

In Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Island countries, new research has revealed alarming evidence of modern slavery fuelled by widespread poverty, migration, weak governance, and the abuse of cultural practices.

"These vulnerabilities are likely to increase as climate change exacerbates poverty and migration. Sectors most at-risk of modern slavery include logging, fishing, agriculture, horticulture, meat packing, construction, domestic work, cleaning and hospitality, and the sex industry," Walk Free's Senior Research Analyst, Elise Gordon, told IPS.

On any given day in 2016, 15,000 people in Australia and 3,000 people in New Zealand were in situations of modern slavery, according to the 2018 Global Slavery Index....

Australia is primarily a destination country for people trafficking and modern slavery. [...]

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The ILO estimates that about 152 million children, aged between 5 and 17, were subject to child labour in 2016, out of which 62 million were in Asia and the Pacific. [...]

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The Asia Pacific region has one of the highest number of people in modern slavery, but the growing awareness of this practise in the region has led to the implementation of legislations to combat it. For example, Australia's Modern Slavery Act 2018 [...]

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Modern slavery is a lucrative business, generating more than $150 billion a year, according to ILO. Legislation alone is no silver bullet. Research shows significant legal loopholes and gaps in enforcement remain. Technology, such as Apps, big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain, is coming to the aid in combatting human trafficking and modern day slavery.

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