BANGALORE, INDIA – For many in the U.S., Monday was the end of a three-day weekend commemorating Labor Day; for 28 people rescued from a massive construction site in Bangalore, it was the beginning of freedom.
IJM first heard about this case of forced labor slavery from a partner organization called Jan Jagriti Kendra (JJK). This organization had learned about a missing persons report: Seven women had mysteriously vanished from a small village in central India, and officials had traced them to a construction facility in Bangalore—more than 800 miles away.
Last month, state government officials made the two-day journey to investigate the construction site, where they found all of the women described in the missing persons report. These seven women were taken to safety, and they shared how they had been promised good jobs job in Bangalore t. Instead, they were trapped at the construction site, where they endured harsh threats and physical abuse over the past nine months they had been trapped at the construction site. They had been promised salaries of approximately $60 a month—but were given a tenth of that, barely enough to purchase essentials like food.
Then the women told the government officials that there were many more workers who had been tricked just like them and trafficked across state lines.
JJK knew IJM worked in the area, so they recommended that the government work with IJM Bangalore on a follow-up operation to rescue the others still waiting for freedom. On September 2, the team of government officials from the state where the women had been trafficked, local officials and IJM staff arrived at the massive construction site.
The development underway at the construction site is a new city center, intended to be a haven with modern amenities inside the high-tech city of Bangalore. Ironically, this modern development was being built through slave labor.
The lead government official spoke to the laborers inside and ushered them onto a bus. The 16 women and 12 men seemed shell-shocked, visibly traumatized by the harsh conditions and abuse they had endured on the construction site. They answered questions about their work, and it was clear that they were being held in a system of forced labor slavery.
The next day, all 28 received release certificates, legal documents that emancipate them and entitle them to protection and compensation from the government. IJM will ensure one of our local partners can provide the critical support these men and women will need to reestablish themselves back home in their villages.