Forced labour

Migrant worker working in Thailand’s fishery sector.

See more photos on forced labour in ILO Flickr photo library.
Forced labour takes many forms, including debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. The victims are usually the most vulnerable members of society – women and girls forced into sex work, migrants trapped in debt bondage, indigenous peoples with limited rights, sweatshop or farm workers restrained by illegal tactics and paid little or nothing. While the great majority of forced labour today is exacted by individuals and private entities, certain forms of state-imposed forced labour continue to persist.

In Asia and the Pacific forced labour, human trafficking and modern slavery remain a significant problem. According to the ILO’s most recent figures more than 11 million people in Asia Pacific are victims of forced labour; accounting for well over half of the global estimated number of 21 million victims. Estimated another way, at least three in every 1000 people in Asia-Pacific are in forced labour, trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave. Domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment are among the sectors where forced labour is most often found.

Key resources

  1. ILO indicators of forced labour

    ILO Indicators of Forced Labour booklet presents eleven indicators intend to help front-line criminal law enforcement officials, labour inspectors, trade union officers, NGO workers and others identify people who are possibly trapped in a forced labour situation and those who may require urgent assistance. The booklet is available in Burmese, Chinese, English, Khmer, Mongolian, Thai and Vietnamese language versions.

Current forced labour projects in Asia and the Pacific

Forced Labour Action in the Asian Region Project (FLARE)
1 January 2014 - 31 December 2015
The FLARE project aims to strengthen the capacities of the national institutions to prevent and address forced labour in East and South-East Asia.

Work in Freedom
1 March 2013 - 30 April 2018
The Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment (MEWOE), The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), Bangladesh Employers’ Federation (BEF), National Coordination Council for Workers’ Education (NCCWE) and Association of Recruiting Agents, other government ministries, departments, national and international NGOs and International trade unions as appropriate for achieving the project outputs.

Work in Freedom: Preventing trafficking of women and girls in South Asia and the Middle East
1 January 2013 - 31 December 2018
The ILO-DFID “Work in Freedom” programme promotes empowerment and education, fair recruitment, safe migration and decent work for women and girls from South Asia, and thus contribute to the prevention of human trafficking in this region and in the Middle East.