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Despite being widely hailed as a turning point in the global fight to end modern slavery, a new estimate of the number of people living as slaves worldwide could in fact complicate efforts to tackle the crime, several academics have warned. About 40 million people were trapped as slaves last year – mostly women and girls – in forced labor and forced marriages, according to the first collaboration by leading anti-slavery groups to count the victims of the lucrative crime worldwide.This compares with Walk Free's 2016 estimate of 45.8 million people living as slaves, and an ILO figure of 21 million held in forced labor, but both organizations said the new number does not show either progress or failure in the anti-slavery fight.Some critics have questioned the difference – of about 20 million people – between Walk Free's 2016 figure of 45.8 million victims, which did not include forced marriage, and the joint estimate's number of people kept in forced labor – 24.9 million.In the old ILO figure of 21 million people trapped in forced labor, women and girls accounted for 55 percent of the victims.
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