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Delhi, India,
23
May
2017
|
03:28 PM
America/New_York

Sensitive Officials and IJM's Partner NGO Rescue 40 from Bondage at a Brick Kiln

Last month, IJM’s trained partner organization Jai Bhim Vikas Shikshan Sansthan (JBVSS) worked with government officials in the state of Rajasthan to rescue 40 people from bonded labor slavery at a sweltering brick kiln. Today, these laborers have returned home safely and are beginning new lives in freedom.

These families had been trafficked from Bihar—a state on the other side of India, near Nepal and Bangladesh. Every day, they were forced to mold and haul thousands of heavy clay bricks in the hot sun, all under the control of a slave owner.

Nineteen children were trapped along with their parents, and ten of these children (some as young as 7) were forced to work as well. One brave 10-year-old girl told government officials about the long days she spent sprinkling hot ash over the mud bricks to help them dry quickly.

JBVSS had discovered the dangerous plight these families were facing and worked with authorities for three days to plan a safe and secure rescue operation. In many parts of India, bonded labor has been viewed as a mere labor rights issue and not as a crime. But these officials were proactive, professional and sensitive to the victims throughout the process.

IJM Delhi staff was on hand to assist and guide JBVSS and local authorities as they explained the rescue to the families, brought them to safety, and began a careful interviewing process to document their stories. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate—who oversaw the operation—ensured the laborers were given warm meals and brought staff from a local hospital to conduct their medical check-ups.

Once evidence was collected and statements were complete, the Magistrate arranged funds for each family to help them return to their home villages. JBVSS staff will work with officials on any legal follow-up and arrests related to the case.

JBVSS distributed initial rehabilitation funds and toolkits to the survivors and then accompanied them back to their home villages so they can re-start life in freedom. JBVSS staff also informed local leaders about the situation, which will help these families re-settle more safely and access various government programs to help in their ongoing rehabilitation. JBVSS will also connect them to a local NGO partner who can help them get back on their feet.

About International Justice Mission’s Partnership Model

IJM has collaborated with local authorities to rescue and restore bonded labor slaves in India since 2001. In 2012, we launched a new project, based in Delhi, to partner with like-minded organizations across the country, share expertise, and replicate success in addressing bonded labor slavery and building government capacity. Our partner Jai Bhim Vikas Shikshan Sansthan (JBVSS) has been protecting and empowering vulnerable women, children and low-caste communities since 1993.