The ‘Freedom From Slavery Forum’ was held inside the UNECA headquarters this week. The gathering had leading anti-human trafficking and modern slavery activists and civil society leaders and has discussed a wide range of issues to combat human trafficking and modern slavery.
Among those that attended the three day event that began on Tuesday, were high profile international activists including Bukeni Waruzi, a United States activist with Free the Slaves, Purva Gupta of the Global March Against Child Labor India and Mark Makinde, Dignity Foundation for Relief and Development from South Africa.
The gathering takes place as Ethiopia was chosen as a model nation where the group intends to work towards its elimination. This comes as the nation strives to create thousands of jobs to help address the urgent issues of unemployment and has yet to build the mechanism to not have its population become victims of exploitation, including having a lack of minimum wage and employment standards.
“We intend to work with partners, civic organizations and government institutions to help root-out the causes of [modern] slavery in Ethiopia,” Bukeni Waruzi, the newly appointed Free the Slaves Executive Director based in Washington DC told The Reporter. “As an important nation, Ethiopia is to be used as a model and others to emulate on our future work here.”
Earlier this year, Ethiopia rose the age of employment from 14 to 15 to avoid child labor, which according to the United Nations estimates that 25 percent of enslaved people remain children.
The U.N. estimates that “more than 40 million people are trapped in modern forms of slavery, worldwide and many of them are forced to work without pay as domestic servants, in construction, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing industries,” generating USD 150 billion in illicit profits annually.
According to Free the Slaves, “71 percent of slaved victims are women and girls, 38 percent of slavery victims are forced into marriage slavery, and 50 percent are in labor slavery while 13 percent are in sex slavery.”
It is estimated by the United Nations International Labor Organization that there are 9.2 million people enslaved, while Asia and the Pacific seem to have a widespread issue with 25 million people believed to be enslaved.
The United Nations intends to end child labor by 2025 and forced labor by 2030. Held for the seventh time this year, this is the first time the annual event was held in Ethiopia.