CHENNAI, INDIA – This week, eight men and women were set free from forced labor slavery in India.
They had begun working to repay a loan they had taken out from the owner of a tree-cutting facility. But 15 years later, many of them were nowhere closer to repaying the original loan – they were trapped in a cycle of slavery. The owner ran his business by moving the forced laborers from one plot of trees to the next, in turn constantly moving the men and women from one village to the next.
The government officials who led the operation had attended an IJM training on identifying and combating forced labor slavery in April 2012. One of the IJM social workers who was present during the rescue operation commended the government's leadership and action that resulted in freedom: "They understood the issue and acted swiftly to bring justice to these [forced] laborers."
The men and women – plus one child who was rescued with the others – will join IJM's two-year aftercare program, so they can receive practical tools, training and continued support to ensure they thrive in freedom.