Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Freed from Bonded Labor

According to the ILO, today in the world there are 20 million people (i.e., the population of Texas) who are currently in bonded labor. Bonded labor is a variation of forced labor that is little discussed and only vaguely understood by most Westerners. In its typical manifestation, bonded labor occurs when credit is advanced to an impoverished person and then he and his family work until they have paid off the debt. But with bonded labor, they almost never do. The employer pays far below minimum wages and issues new advances for “expenses” and “interest.” Underpaid and overcredited, these employees are locked into years of involuntary servitude. Bonded labor is a violation of international law and India’s Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act of 1976. Under Indian law, the government will criminally prosecute the employers, cancel any debt of a bonded laborer, and compensate each bonded laborer 20,000 rupees ($460).

Today I joined caseworkers from IJM to visit dozens of former bonded laborers now living in small villages in the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. These lower caste members (formerly called untouchables) all had served years as bonded laborers for rice mill owners. One family we met today had accepted an advance ten years ago from a rice mill owner to pay the dowry for her wedding. The cost of the advance was 6,000 rupees ($137). Her family of four then became bonded laborers and worked in the rice paddies 12 hours a day, six days a week for the next ten years to pay off the debt. They never did. At the time they were released last year, the family “debt” had quadrupled to 26,000 rupees ($600).

In another village, a small thatched-roof shanty in a remote part of Tamil Nadu, we met with over 50 children in a one-room school house. Until last year these children were “generational bonded laborers,” having spent their entire lives with families in bonded labor. With the government’s compensation of $460, and the supervision of IJM caseworkers, these former bonded laborers are buying tiny plots of land, building small permanent houses (4’ x 6’ one-room brick houses for a family of four), purchasing cows for revenue, insuring their investment ($3 annual premium per $200 cow), handling money for the first time, opening a passbook bank account, and taking steps toward educating their children. When we met with them they thrilled at small pieces of chocolate, sang songs to welcome us, and were transfixed at the site of their blond-haired, blue-eyed guests. When I asked how many of them liked going to school, every single child raised their hand. They particularly enjoyed the site of their own images on digital camera. These families now look forward to a less bleak future in which the revenue from cows’ milk will provide them up to $1,000 a year, just enough to live on.

Obviously there are problems with implementation of the Indian bonded labor compensation scheme, as Human Rights Watch has noted. But there also is a problem with the way we traditionally envision the work of international lawyers in securing human rights. Typically one does not associate human rights lawyers with facilitating the enforcement of domestic statutory rights for guaranteed government compensation in far-flung countries. But that’s exactly what IJM caseworkers are doing. And more of us should be and could be doing more of it. Which is the topic of tomorrow’s post.


Blogger beautifuls said...

Buy Cheap Fluro Cambridge Satchel Cambridge Satchel Fluro Fluro Yellow Cambridge Satchel Fluro Pink Cambridge Satchel Cambridge Satchel Fluro Yellow Cambridge Satchel Fluro Pink with lower price and high quality.

2/23/2012 9:34 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

ninest123 08.04
oakley sunglasses, nike air max, michael kors outlet, prada outlet, tiffany jewelry, louboutin shoes, nike outlet, michael kors outlet online, kate spade outlet, tiffany jewelry, burberry factory outlet, oakley sunglasses, coach outlet, michael kors outlet online, michael kors handbags, longchamp outlet, chanel handbags, michael kors, nike air max, kate spade, coach purses, nike free, replica watches, cheap jordans, ray ban sunglasses, prada handbags, louboutin uk, gucci handbags, burberry outlet, michael kors outlet store, true religion outlet, ralph lauren polo, ray ban sunglasses, coach outlet, coach outlet store online, oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, christian louboutin, christian louboutin, ralph lauren outlet, tory burch outlet, longchamp bags

8/03/2015 10:11 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

nike air force, jordan pas cher, vans pas cher, abercrombie and fitch UK, vanessa bruno pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, nike air max, true religion outlet, polo lacoste pas cher, michael kors uk, nike air max pas cher, lunette ray ban pas cher, north face pas cher, louboutin pas cher, longchamp soldes, michael kors, hermes pas cher, converse, nike air max uk, nike air max uk, nike free, polo ralph lauren uk, burberry pas cher, longchamp pas cher, nike free pas cher, nike roshe run pas cher, north face uk, mulberry uk, lululemon outlet, hollister uk, michael kors outlet online, true religion outlet, timberland pas cher, nike tn pas cher, ray ban uk, lunette oakley pas cher, hogan sito ufficiale, new balance, sac guess pas cher, true religion jeans, abercrombie and fitch, ralph lauren pas cher

8/03/2015 10:12 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

beats by dre, babyliss pro, nike roshe run, hollister clothing, abercrombie, mcm handbags, p90x workout, nike trainers uk, wedding dresses, softball bats, timberland boots, insanity workout, nike air huarache, instyler ionic styler, herve leger, lululemon outlet, north face outlet, asics running shoes, new balance shoes, valentino shoes, mac cosmetics, chi flat iron, hermes handbags, iphone 6 cases, nfl jerseys, nike air max, soccer jerseys, soccer shoes, celine handbags, nike roshe uk, oakley, reebok outlet, salvatore ferragamo, north face outlet, giuseppe zanotti, abercrombie and fitch, ghd hair, mont blanc, vans outlet, bottega veneta, jimmy choo outlet, longchamp uk

8/03/2015 10:14 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

coach outlet, pandora jewelry, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, hollister, pandora uk, converse shoes outlet, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, pandora charms, vans scarpe, ray ban, toms shoes, ugg pas cher, gucci, bottes ugg pas cher, uggs on sale, converse, replica watches, swarovski jewelry, thomas sabo uk, uggs on sale, wedding dresses uk, uggs outlet, supra shoes, marc jacobs, uggs on sale, juicy couture outlet, links of london uk, louboutin, ugg uk, juicy couture outlet, polo ralph lauren, hollister, montre pas cher, karen millen uk, lancel, swarovski uk, nike air max, uggs outlet
ninest123 08.04

8/03/2015 10:17 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home