RAJASTHAN, INDIA – In late October, IJM’s casework partner Jai Bhim Vikas Shikshan Sansthan (JBVSS) supported local authorities in Rajasthan state to free 13 people from bonded labour at a brick kiln. This included three young children who were living at the worksite with their parents.
These families had been trafficked from the state of Punjab under the promise of good jobs and fair pay. Instead, they were forced to work long hours making bricks by hand in grueling conditions. They slept in makeshift houses at the brick kiln and had to cook and bathe with the same water used for making bricks.
For the last year, these labourers were watched constantly, endured constant verbal abuse, and were not allowed to leave the site. The brick kiln owner was well-known and quite powerful in the local community, so they felt hopeless when wondering if they could ever escape. Only one person was allowed to leave occasionally to buy food – but the rest of the family had to stay back as collateral so he or she would return. One woman – who was six months pregnant at the time of rescue – had not even been allowed to leave to see a doctor.
Once JBVSS staff heard about the families’ plight, they worked closely with government officials from the District Administration to confirm the facts and conduct a rescue operation on October 23. This all builds on training JBVSS has received from IJM and their years of experience serving vulnerable families in this community.
The brick kiln owner has been vocal in defending his actions to local authorities, and officials are still determining the list of crimes in this case. Staff from JBVSS will continue to advocate for the strongest charges possible and for legal protections that will keep these families safe long-term. In the meantime, JBVSS has helped the families return to their hometowns and will provide short term aftercare, such as food support, to help them begin rebuilding life in freedom.
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