There are an estimated almost 8 million people living in modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). 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.
Suresh is 14 years old and describes a lack of legal agreement with her employer leaves her vulnerable to labour exploitation.
Many people from my village work in garment factories in Delhi. I started working here in January 2009 as a helper and would work day and night if needed.
We have no legal agreement with our boss and are not given any pay slip. We are often not paid on time. But we can’t make any demands because if we do we will get sacked.
Narrative provided by Anti-Slavery International from their report ‘Slavery on the High Street: Forced Labour in the manufacture of garments for international brands’, June 2012.