The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day there were nearly 8 million people living in modern slavery in India. While the bonded labour system is formally abolished and criminalised, recent research indicated that bonded labour is still prevalent in India. A 2016 report found that in the state of Tamil Nadu, 351 of 743 spinning mills used bonded labour schemes, otherwise known as Sumangali schemes. Similarly in granite quarries, wage advances and loans with an interest ranging from 24% to 36% are used to bond workers. Situations of debt bondage are often aggravated by the need to raise emergency funds or take on loans for health crises.
Ramesh took a loan to pay for his wife’s medical treatment. Upon their return from the hospital, Ramesh and his family were forced to work long hours in a brick kiln to pay off the money they had borrowed. Ramesh and his family were finally able to escape their situation with the help of Schools4Freedom.
Four years ago my wife had severe pain in her abdomen and the local doctor advised us to consult a doctor in the city. I had no money for my wife’s treatment so I took a loan from the slave owner after being advised to do so by some of our relatives. Just after my wife returned from the hospital the slave owner and his henchmen caught us from our home. They put us in the brick kiln with our 3 children where we all worked 12-15 hours everyday. We got Rs 200 (about $2.80) per week and that amount was not even sufficient for food of entire family. We were living very terrible life in the brick kiln. We were illiterate and weren’t able to calculate our wages. One evening Schools4Freedom team members came to the brick kiln and listened to our story. They helped me to negotiate with the slave owner. I got my due wages back with the support of S4F team members.
We returned home safely.
Narrative provided by Voices4Freedom
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