It has been estimated by scholars, journalists and activists that the number of slaves in the world today ranges between 10 and 30 million people. An agency of the United Nations, The International Labour Organization, in 2005 stated that there was a minimum of 12.3 million slaves. In 1999, Kevin Bales, a sociologist and a consultant to the United Nations, estimated the number to be close to 27 million people.
There are many reasons why it is difficult to determine exactly how many slaves there are currently in the world. Unfortunately, they are essentially a “hidden population.” Although slavery is illegal in every country, slaves are not usually the people to come forward and identify themselves. Often they are in a country illegally and fear that if they come forward, they will be perceived as criminals, instead of as victims.
What can be done to encourage people who are victims of slavery to come forward? Can the international community do anything to insure that people who are victims of slavery and brought to foreign countries against their will are not prosecuted?