India has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, there are still at least 270 million people living on less than US$1.90 per day. While laws, systems and attitudes regarding key 'fault lines' such as the caste system, gender and feudalism are rapidly changing, social change of this depth and scale necessarily takes time. In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that existing research suggests that all forms of modern slavery continue to exist in India, including intergenerational bonded labour, forced child labour, commercial sexual exploitation, forced begging, forced recruitment into nonstate armed groups and forced marriage. While bonded labour has been outlawed for decades, survey data and pre-existing research confirms that this practice still persists. Bonded labour is not only illegal, research confirms that it has serious negative health impacts for those affected, who typically work in unsanitary and dangerous working conditions with no access to health care.
Adhi joined a working scheme at a mill in order to save money for her wedding. While there Adhi was forced to work long hours with little sleep and received limited food and water.
So I told my aunt that I wanted to go for some mill work and also help me to join a hostel. She first refused, then later on through a broker for 2000 rupees I got a job at the mill at Vedachanthur. When I joined there, initially they told me to be at the hostel and join the scheme because I needed the money for my wedding. If you join the scheme your life will be good. Since I was an orphan I decided to join the scheme. I joined in the winding department. The work at the mill was hard. If I see the difficulty how can I survive? Even though I had difficulties I was happy that I had people around me so I joined the hostel. In the hostel I experienced lot of problems. There was limited food; if you asked for extra food it was denied. To take a bath there were five bathrooms, and some days, water would not come. It was quite difficult. In one room six of us had to sleep. One of us will be in day shift or night shift or afternoon shift. After coming back from night shift we cannot sleep. Others would be chatting. We do not even fold our mattresses and continue to sleep with the same ones. The biggest problem was that for each shift they used to come and wake us. Alarm would be kept and they will come and ring it and wake us up. We cannot sleep properly. If the regular working girls were on leave, they will come and ask us to work even when we had just finished night shift. They will pressure us to do overtime. You are only in the hostel; why can you not do it? What are you going to do with the scheme money? We used to receive such scolding
As told to the Institute of Development Studies for their report 'Patterns and Dynamics of Bonded Labour and Child Labour in the Spinning Mills of Tamil Nadu: Findings from Life Story Analysis'