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ANDHRA PRADESH, INDIA – On 25 February, government officials rescued a 23-year-old man from a construction site where he had been trapped for nearly half his life.
The rescue operation was spearheaded by the Ananthapuramu district government with support from one of IJM’s partner NGOs, Rural and Environment Development Society (REDS).
The officials who led this rescue had recently been trained by IJM on addressing the issue of bonded labour. Armed with knowledge on the subject, the government responded swiftly to the complaint, led an onsite interview to confirm the abuse, and released the victim from bondage by issuing a Release Certificate, which is a formal document that cancels all debts and frees him.
A much needed breakthrough
The survivor was a 6th grade student when he was pulled out of school to work and repay his parents’ loan of 15,000 rupees (A$275). The construction site owner had falsified this debt over time and claimed the family now owed 150,000 rupees (A$2,750). The owner forced this young man to work for about 14 hours every day, enduring physical and verbal abuse. But at the end of each week, he was “paid” only 500 rupees (less than $10) for the family’s living expenses.
After their intervention, the government promised to provide this survivor with identification documents and enrol him in benefit programs that will be immensely helpful as he begins his new life in freedom. He will also receive rehabilitation support and counselling from one of IJM’s NGO partners to ensure that he is healed of all past traumas and is ready to thrive in freedom.
After the rescue operation, our partner NGO was in awe of the work done by government. Mr. Bhanuja, Director of REDS said:
“Never have we witnessed such seamless coordination between government officials from different departments before. In less than 24 hours, the victim stood free with a Release Certificate in hand, and the government had already made arrangements to ensure he receives rehabilitation support.”
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