When one 9-year-old boy saw a group of other kids being forced to work at a water treatment facility near his home, he knew exactly who to tell: His dad, Raja, who works at IJM to combat modern slavery.
“You go everywhere and rescue people,” he said, “why can’t you send these boys home?”
His instincts were right, and Raja quickly reported the potential slavery case to a child labour helpline and his IJM colleagues.
On 21 June, the team joined government officials to investigate the facility—a place where thousands of Chennai families get their drinking water—and what they found was shocking.
Five teen boys and one young man had been trafficked to the facility from northern India. They had to use chemicals to make water drinkable and then bottled it for sale. Due to high demand, they were being forced to work nearly 24 hours a day in appalling conditions, leaving them wounded, exhausted and terrified. Some had been enslaved for five years.
“This is one of the most gruesome cases we have come across. The boys were overworked … and their hands and feet were injured from working with strong chemicals used to treat the water … One of the boys said he had asked to speak to his parents but was beaten up, so they were scared to ask for anything.”
Local officials documented the evidence of brutality at the water treatment centre, then helped the boys move quickly to a safe location. The boys could barely stay awake to share their testimonies, and they soon fell deep asleep after getting warm meals and a place to rest.
Police have filed charges against the facility owner and his accomplices, and they are working on arresting these suspects in the coming weeks. Officials also shut down the water treatment facilities and locked their doors.
The rescue operation tied in with a fresh commitment from the Tamil Nadu state government to protect children after World Day Against Child Labour, which took place on 12 June.
Once the operation was completed, authorities brought the boys to a short-term aftercare shelter to rest and heal. Next, IJM will help the boys return to their homes in northern India and will provide long-term rehabilitative care.
You might also be interested in…
“German child sex offender given five-year sentence for abusing two-year-old son”
BERLIN, GERMANY – On 6 July, a court in Berlin, Germany sentenced Dennis S., 38, to five years in prison for sexually abusing his son beginning when the boy was only two years old. Dennis S. was also convicted and sentenced for producing and possessing child sexual exploitation materials (CSEM). On his computer, German authorities
“Rescue: A Church Speaks Up and A Minor is Freed From Sexual Exploitation”
On June 25, the Dominican National Police’s Anti-Trafficking Department, in coordination with the Anti-Trafficking Specialised Prosecutor Office, rescued a 14-year-old Dominican girl from sexual exploitation. This rescue was possible thanks to a local church, which IJM previously trained to recognise this crime within their community, that put its training into action. A teacher visited the
“MEDIA RELEASE: New Australian law to aid in global fight against the online sexual exploitation of children”
Thursday 25 June 2020 International Justice Mission welcomes the passage of legislation in Australia introducing stronger penalties for child sexual abuse crimes. The legislation adds new offences that better capture the exploitative role of Australians and other demand-side offenders in online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) and creates mandatory minimum sentences for the most serious
“Fifteenth IJM-supported operation during COVID-19 rescues 7 children from cybersex trafficking”
TAGUIG, THE PHILIPPINES – On Wednesday 17 June 2020, police arrested a 30-year-old female online sex trafficker and brought seven children and a woman to safety. The youngest rescued was a 2-year-old-boy. It’s the fifteenth cybersex trafficking operation supported by IJM since COVID-19 lockdowns began in March. The operation took place around 2pm with the