IJM supported local authorities in an urgent rescue operation this week in southern India, freeing 52 enslaved women, men and children from terrifying conditions at a ginger farm.
One laborer had escaped over a 12-foot wall to alert police to the dangerous situation: For three years, families had been forced to work 17-hour days under constant violence. They were beaten with horse whips for working slowly, starved, locked in a one-room shed at night, and almost never allowed to speak to each other.
Women faced ongoing sexual harassment and assault. Children were locked in the shed by day as their parents worked.
Many of the laborers were from the poorest ethnic groups of Indian society, and the slave owners had no problem treating them like animals for financial gain.
When the rescue team arrived, they found some laborers with raw wounds from the abuse and others with deep scars from years of torture. After confirming the facts, proactive officials brought the 52 victims to safety and will give them release certificates to mark their freedom.
Five suspects involved in their captivity have been arrested and charged.
From here, IJM will support the rescued survivors in a two-year aftercare program to help them overcome trauma and re-learn how to live independently. The Indian government will provide them with starter funding and bank accounts to begin building a new life in freedom.