At least 40 million people were living as slaves in forced labour and forced marriages last year, according to new global slavery statistics.
The fresh data, which has been published in a joint report from the Walk Free Foundation, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Organisation for Migration, reveals that 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016.
The coalition of NGOs said that the figure was a conservative estimate.
A companion estimate of child labour compiled by the ILO revealed that 152 million children aged between five and 17 are currently the victims of child labour.
The new figures indicate that women and girls are disproportionally the victims of modern slavery, accounting for 29 million (71%) of the overall total.
The report, which was released during the UN General Assembly, found that 99% of slaves forced to work in the global commercial sex industry were female last year, and that women accounted for 84% of victims of forced marriages.
Andrew Forrest, Chairman and Founder of the Walk Free Foundation, commented: “The fact that as a society we still have 40 million people in modern slavery, on any given day shames us all.
“If we consider the results of the last five years, for which we have collected data, 89 million people experienced some form of modern slavery for periods of time ranging from a few days to five years.
“This speaks to the deep seated discrimination and inequalities in our world today, coupled with a shocking tolerance of exploitation. This has to stop. We all have a role to play in changing this reality – business, government, civil society, every one of us.”
Separately, the Evening Standard reports that British Prime Minister Theresa May has called on the United Nations to commit to taking tough long-term action to end modern slavery.
Speaking exclusively with the paper, which is now edited by her former cabinet colleague George Osborne, May said: “I am calling on the leaders at the UN General Assembly to work collaboratively and internationally – but also to look at their own situation.
“[Modern slavery] is becoming more and more talked about. People are committed to doing something. Many wrongly believe slavery was ended by the actions of William Wilberforce. Sadly, the estimates are that potentially millions of people around the world are impacted by this.”
While serving as Home Secretary for the previous UK government, May was responsible for driving through the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which introduced tougher penalties for people convicted of human trafficking and modern slavery offences, while offering greater protection to victims of these crimes.