FORCED LABOR SLAVERY
"We wanted to leave the mill and live freely but I never thought that would happen in my lifetime."– Rajeswari, a survivor of slavery rescued by IJM
Forced labor slavery uses deception, threats or violence to coerce someone to work for little to no pay. Although slavery has been outlawed in nearly every country, millions of men, women and children are working as slaves in brick kilns, rice mills, garment factories, fishing operations and many other industries.
"It was a moving sight to see those little hands holding the hammer while they should've been in school holding pencils—now, they're free and can go back to school."
– IJM Social Worker
- There are an estimated 40.3 million people held in slavery today.1
- Children represent an estimated 26% of all forced labor victims.2
- India has the largest estimated number of people in slavery, between 10.7 and 12.7 million.3
Understand the Issue
Forced labor slavery is a violent crime. Physical and sexual assault are rampant: In IJM cases, we have documented forced labor slaves who have been beaten, gang raped, locked in tiny rooms, starved and even killed. Victims who try and escape commonly report being tracked down, beaten and returned to the facility. But many victims of slavery don’t try to run away, because owners use fear and deception that traps them more strongly than physical locks and walls.
One of the most common techniques to entrap laborers is through false debts. An owner lures a poor person into slavery by offering a small advance payment for their labor. The owner then ensures it is impossible for the slave to ever repay by inflating the debt owed with exorbitant interest charges, not paying the victim the promised wages and prohibiting him or her from working anywhere else. These false debts can be passed from one generation to the next; we have identified entire families (from grandparents to parents to children) who have been forced to work for years after accepting advance payments as low as $20.
IJM combats forced labor slavery in Cambodia, Ghana, India, and Thailand.
We identify people trapped in slavery, partner with local authorities to conduct rescue operations and ensure each victim is legally emancipated and receives government support.
BRING CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE
We advocate for police reports to be filed against owners or traffickers, and support prosecution of slave owners.
We create individualized care plans for each person to respond to trauma and pursue dignifying jobs and educational opportunities.
STRENGTHEN JUSTICE SYSTEMS
We provide hands-on mentoring for law enforcement, government officials and partner organizations. We also create social demand and advocate with state and national leaders to make ending slavery a top priority.
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2International Labour Organisation. "ILO 2012 Global estimate of forced labour: Executive Summary."
3Sidharth Kara. “Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia.”