IJM Intervention Brings Freedom to 32 Held in Slavery
CHENNAI , INDIA - An IJM operation has brought freedom to 32 people held in a life of slavery at a brick kiln. At the kiln, dozens of children, women and men were forced into the hard labor of brickworks: the victims gathered water, dug dirt, mixed and carried clay, filled molds and dried bricks in grueling conditions. The soil used to make the bricks is notorious for causing sores on human skin and the victims’ hands were scarred and infected. Even the youngest child slaves suffered from open wounds on their hands.
Not only was working at the kiln extremely difficult, but the owner forced his victims to live there as well. Lack of food and water left the victims susceptible to disease and desperate to escape. The owner, intensely unconcerned with his slaves, even admitted to IJM staff that he did not know the names of his workers and did not need to know their names to keep them working.
IJM staff partnered with a local government official to bring freedom to the slaves held at the kiln. This official was so committed to eradicating slavery in his district that he worked with IJM to schedule the raid of the kiln on the best possible day for the intervention – a day that happened to be a government holiday. On what could have been a day off for them, the official and his staff worked alongside IJM to document the conditions of slavery at the kiln, bringing freedom to the victims, who were desperate to leave.
By evening, 32 people, including nine children, were granted official government release certificates and freed. Though the owner had dismissed the victim’s very identities as unimportant, each release certificate testified to the dignity and significance of the individuals and the names the kiln owner had not bothered to learn.
These government release certificates entitle emancipated slaves to vital financial assistance as they begin to rebuild their lives. The children, women and men brought to freedom in this raid will also receive assistance through IJM’s aftercare programs, designed to help them transition to secure employment and education. IJM will continue to pursue justice in the case, supporting the relevant authorities in the pursuit of criminal charges against the perpetrator of this abuse.
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