Children Should NOT be Slaves

The Brickmaking Child Slave

Modern Slavery in Pakistan: 2015

According to a report issued by The Global Slavery Index , Pakistan has an estimated 2,058,200 people who are trapped in slavery of one form or another. That equals approximately 1.13% of the entire population, or more than 1 out of every 100 people in Pakistan is a slave.

Slaves are used in the production of : food, bricks, carpets, coal, cotton, rice, sugar, and wheat, while the most prevalent form of slavery, bonded labor, is mainly found in the brick making, agriculture, and carpet weaving industries. Although official statistics are not available, it is estimated that the brick kiln industry employs around 4.5 million people country wide, and it is believed that the majority of the brick kiln workers in the Punjab Province are, in fact, bonded laborers.

BONDED LABOR

It is believed that bonded labor is the most widespread form of slavery in the world. Yet it remains the least understood form of slavery in the world. A person becomes a bonded laborer when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan. The person is then tricked or trapped into working for very little or no pay. The fair market value for the work performed becomes exceedingly greater than the original sum of money borrowed. More often than not, the debts are passed onto the next generations. For many, the children born to the slave become slaves themselves, working on repaying the family debt.

In the Pakistani brick industry, a slave may make only $1 to $2 dollars a day. After paying their master forced rent, and buying an insufficient amount of food, there is not much left to pay back a loan. A $500 loan can put a family into slavery for ten years or more, as interest accrues and the other issues of life occur.

Many bonded laborers are forced to work to repay debts their employer says they owe, and they are not allowed to work for anyone else. Violence and threats can be used to coerce them to stay, and in some cases they are kept under surveillance – sometimes under lock and key.

The children of slaves, are also slaves until the debt is paid.

The children of slaves, are also slaves until the debt is paid.

 

Why Does Bonded Labor Exist?

Bonded labor exists because of the persistence of poverty, widespread discrimination making large groups of people vulnerable to exploitation and the existence of people who are prepared to exploit the desperation of others. The need for cash for daily survival forces people to sell their labor in exchange for a lump sum of money or a loan. In South East Asia bonded labor is rooted in the caste system and predominately affects Dalits (the lowest caste called ‘Untouchables’).

Despite the fact that bonded labor is illegal governments are rarely willing to enforce the law, or to ensure that those who profit from it are punished. Widespread discrimination against some social groups means they have limited access to justice, education and ways to get themselves out of poverty which is one of the main reasons the debt is taken in the first place.

Setting them free

I have a dear friend in Pakistan who is a school teacher in the public school system. An educated public school teacher in Pakistan have a monthly salary around $200USD. After paying her monthly bills, she uses the majority of the remaining money to work with the slave children at one of the brick slave yards.

In November of 2014, this dear woman shared with me her desire to bless the slave children with some new clothing, and some basic necessities such as soap and toothpaste. We set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money and were able to send over $1,200USD to purchase items for the 150 or so slave children in that area.  All of the children were able to receive a new outfit, some necessities, and a snack/treat. Many of the children had never had cake until that day.  You can see what we did here.

On February 13th, 2015, I was able to send another $350USD contribution for the work with the children.  Four days later I received an email from this dear woman who informed me that she was trying to pay off a families debt and set them free.  This family of 5 was led by a man who borrowed money to treat his father's cancer with 23 yrs ago, and has been a slave ever since.  I asked if she needed any more money, and she explained that the entire debt was $285USD, and then we would need to rent a house for them, and buy some food and other things.  She expected the total to be around $500USD, but with the money we sent and the money she still had left from her $200 monthly salary, she had enough money.  All she was asking for was our permission.

"yes"

We gave her our complete support and told her how wonderful that would be.

In order to free this family of five, we needed to

  1. pay off the debt,
  2. find them someplace to live,
  3. purchase two weeks worth of food, and
  4. establish a small business selling produce for the husband to support his family.

I am overjoyed to tell you that this was accomplished on February 19th, 2015!!

One Year Anniversary

I am beyond words to tell you, that tomorrow will be our 1 year anniversary helping the slave children and I want to report, that we have played a role in the freedom of 7families in the first year.

I am amazed at what can be accomplished and I look forward to see what happens in the next year!

Won't you join us?

bondedlabor

 

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