CHENNAI, INDIA – They work in brick kilns, quarries, fisheries, fields, forests, and factories. They look like any other laborers. But they are different. They are slave labor.
According to an International Justice Mission (IJM) Fact Sheet, 40.3 million people are held as forced-labor slaves around the world. Twenty-five percent are children. Nearly half of all people enslaved by forced labor are in Asia – sometimes entire families.
The IJM “partners with local authorities to rescue victims, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems.” The organization has partnered with local officials in Chennai since 2001 to rescue thousands of men, women, and children and train them for a life of freedom in a two-year aftercare program.
On Tuesday, February 20, 2018 – which also happens to be the World Day of Social Justice – staff from IJM and local police visited a local wood-cutting worksite after a local official told them that some families were working in forced labor.
They found 15 people, including four children, living together in a shack in desperate poverty. The victims had borrowed the equivalent of $70 USD from the owner of the worksite six years ago. They were forced to work for the businessman to repay the loan, but they were paid wages far too low to ever repay the debt which continued to climb higher with added interest. And, they were never allowed to leave the owner’s property.
This is a typical way that so many living in poverty end up as bonded labor, unwillingly entrapped by unethical business owners.
IJM praised the cooperative work of the local officials who not only granted the enslaved individuals with release certificates, food, and lodging. Staff members said that they are witnessing local officials “rise up to protect the poor from this horrific abuse and end slavery for good.”
- International Justice Mission, Trained Officials Free 15 from a Life of Slavery Cutting Wood
- International Justice Mission, Chennai, India Fact Sheet
- International Justice Mission, Forced Labor Slavery Fact Sheet
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