CHENNAI, INDIA – Yesterday, IJM helped local authorities rescue 40 children, women and men from two different brick kilns where they were trapped as slaves.
When the rescue team entered the first brick kiln, one of the women fell face-down in front of the government officials, sobbing and begging for rescue. Another man added his desperate pleas, explaining how the laborers had no freedom inside the abusive brick kiln. He said that the owner had not allowed him to get medical care for two of his children when they needed it – and both had later passed away.
IJM Chennai Director of Aftercare Pranitha Timothy was part of the rescue team that went inside the brick kilns. She said: "When we first saw the laborers, we could see from their external appearances that they needed to be rescued because of their poor living and working conditions."
The rescue team led the families back to a government office, and IJM helped the officials conduct an enquiry that would determine whether they were victims of forced labor slavery. Timothy said that the statements the families gave clearly demonstrated the tell-tale signs of slavery: "They had been trafficked and denied medical attention as well as permission to leave the facility for any reason."
Twenty-three people received Release Certificates, emancipating them from slavery and entitling each person to government-allocated rehabilitation money. Each of the families is now part of IJM's two-year aftercare program, and IJM staff will continue to support them as they resettle in their home communities.