CHENNAI, INDIA – Earlier this year, India's most prestigious law school invited IJM Chennai to educate undergraduate and postgraduate students on forced labor slavery. A handful of India University's National Law School students, specializing in criminal rights, human rights and business, enrolled in this five-day, credit course led by IJM lawyers.
National Law School graduates often go on to join multi-million-dollar corporations or teach law at top international universities. IJM Chennai lawyer Richard Ebenezer explained that it is important to expose this particular group of bright students to the prevalence and severity of forced labor slavery in India while they are at the beginning of careers that will likely be successful and influential. "We're not only increasing awareness of the issue of bonded labor, we are also exposing students to the possibility of a career in human rights."
India outlawed forced labor slavery in the 1970s, but the law against it is still rarely enforced. It is also seldom part of a law school's curriculum—even in human rights classes. One of the IJM instructors who led a discussion during the course said it was an eye-opening reality check for many of the rising lawyers: "Several of the students told us they never thought forced labor was still an issue in today's society." IJM used examples from actual instances of slavery and worked with the students to identify what constitutes forced or "bonded" labor. The students learned what questions to ask and how to advocate for forced laborers. By the time the week-long course ended, the National Law School students demonstrated a thorough understanding of forced labor and were able to articulate the issue with clarity and detail.