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2012 (Narrative date)

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. 


Selvi worked in a mill in Palladam and was not paid for her 18 months’ work. After she had to leave the mill due to ill-health she recollected her experience. 

After a year and a half I became very ill and struggled to breathe. Doctors found cotton in my lung and I had developed TB. The mill management did not give me any money for treatment and refused to pay me for my year and a half’s work. 


268 workers stayed together in the mill hostel. For all of us there were just six toilets and bathrooms. 



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.