These families—including five children—had been trapped for three years after taking a loan of about A$140 from the rice mill’s owner. Over time, he charged them fake interest and added charges to their debt, which ballooned to A$210 even with three years of their work.
Life at the mill grew increasingly difficult. The families were never allowed to leave, even for medical care or religious festivals. Instead, they harvested and dried bag upon bag of rice and lived in constant fear of the owner’s violence.
IJM worked with local authorities to free the families on Tuesday 22 January. After confirming the facts of the case, officials helped the families pack their few belongings and move to safety at a government office, where they got warm meals and a chance to rest.
One mother told IJM,
As officials processed the legal documents marking their freedom, the children (ages 3 to 13) drew colourful pictures of their dreams of freedom—flowers, big trees, a house, and seeing a beloved dog they left back at home.
Authorities are helping the families return to their homes and will provide ongoing support as they resettle. IJM will also help them adjust and stay safe through our two-year aftercare program as they reclaim the years that they have lost.
The suspected slave-holder has been taken into police custody and was charged under India’s anti-slavery and anti-discrimination laws.
International Justice Mission is a global organisation that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems.Find out more