Thirty Families Rescued from Generations of Exploitation and Slavery

JEHANABAD, BIHAR – NORTHERN INDIA

March 12, 2015

Two weeks ago, 170 men, women and children (comprising of 30 families) found freedom from years of slavery and exploitation as bonded laborers in Jehanabad, Northern India.

Following proven methods used in recent multi-generational bonded slavery rescues in India (where 186 people were freed in Madhubani two months ago, and 160 people were rescued in Kespa, Biharin October 2014), Justice Ventures International (JVI) and its local justice partner once again joined forces with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and local government officials to bring freedom, justice and restoration to these victims of slavery.

Rescued families

Upon examination of the village, the joint rescue team found that the survivors were subjected to inhumane working conditions.  Instead of giving proper wages, the employers manipulated the victims by giving only 1.5 kg of raw rice every day.

“The cost of rice offered to the victims is 4.5 rupees (less than 10 cents) per kilogram. Interestingly, this is the same amount of rice that the government offers under the Public Distribution System (PDS), and is meant for the poor. Please note how the innocent laborers were deceived for years”, said Hem Raj, Director – North Zone, Justice Ventures International (JVI) Project.

Enslaved for many years, some for three to four generations, these families were forced to work for more than 10-12 hours every day.  It was common practice for the employers to use violence and threats to keep the laborers submissive.  In the case of Ravinder*, even though he was able to finally pay off his debt, he was brutally abused for trying to leave the village to explore better opportunities.

“They broke my hand and threw me away groaning with pain. The violent employer did this because I denied taking more advance money”, said Ravinder.

Families are being interviewed

JVI, its local justice partner, and the NHRC continue to work closely with local government officials to ensure the survivors receive Release Certificates. These Certificates will give them access to government rehabilitation benefits, which may include housing, compensation for back wages, medical care and counseling.

* This name is a pseduonym used to protect the identity of the survivor.

**This rescue was conducted with the generous support of IJM under the Google Intervention Project.

All content and images are the property of JVI © 2015.

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