The Issue

The facts

The numbers listed below highlight the overall size of the modern slavery issue, the profits generated, along with the reality that collectively, the world is losing the fight against this terrible crime.

US$ 150 billion


The profits generated from this illicit trade are estimated to exceed 150 billion US$ annually. If any of this illegal money makes its way into regulated banks, it is considered money laundering. Banks, therefore have a critical interest and important role in seeing slavery abolished once and for all.

0.2 %

victims assisted

According to the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, only 66,000 of the estimated 45.8 million slaves globally were rescued last year, meaning less than 0.2% of victims were being identified and helped each year. We are losing the fight!

Stories of modern slavery survivors
Story of Nguyen
Story of Sarya

I was only 16 years old when I was forced onto that fishing boat. I was told that the job was easy and that I’d be paid a good wage. But instead, I ended up working 18 hours a day, every day. For food, we ate nothing but fish and rice twice a day. If I got sick or injured, I worked. I had seen others who had fallen ill and the captain simply threw them over the side of the boat. To keep me working, they would force me to take powerful drugs that destroyed my body. When I finally returned to port after four years at sea, I was not given any pay. The captain told me that I was an illegal migrant so he didn’t have to give me anything. When I was on that boat why did no one help me? Where was everyone?

Vietnamese victim exploited in Thailand

I heard that many spinning mills in a big city in my region offered work. My family was very poor and I wanted to help, so I went there. The man who managed the mill said I could have a job. We negotiated a salary of US$50 a month. He said that I had to live on the factory site. After working 18 hours a day for the first month, I went to the employer and asked for my pay. He laughed before saying, “I am sorry, I forgot to mention to you that it costs me US$54 a month to keep you here and I am only paying you US$50. So you owe me money. Until you pay it back, you cannot leave this place.” For three years, I was not able to leave. I could not contact my family. The more I worked, the more debt I owed. I lost three years of my life. Gone… stolen from me. Something I can never get back again.

Local victim exploited in India

What does it mean to you

Why should businesses get involved?

The private sector has extensive human and financial resources that could help eliminate modern slavery conditions. They know how to identify and root out bad businesses, and have the capabilities to tackle the problem, e.g. legal, compliance, accounting, communications, and financial expertise.

If the private sector were to become more active in the fight, they could play a pivotal role in significantly reducing the number of modern slavery victims, improving the lives of countless others along the way.

Business risk and reputation risk

Many companies recognize that global sourcing and commerce often represent a significant challenge to ethical compliance as well as a potential business risk. Those that want to meet high ethical standards and maintain their reputation must understand the risks posed by modern slavery. These risks range from:

  • brand-damaging consumer advocacy and NGO group pressures that identify and publicly expose worker abuse in a supply chain or company operation
  • costly class action lawsuits
  • brand debarment, and
  • criminal prosecution.

There are serious consequences associated with failure to comply with anti-modern slavery regulation.