India

Fighting Modern Slavery

There are millions of people trapped in forms of modern slavery in India – more than anywhere else in the world, according to some estimates. While India has strong laws against both sex trafficking and forced labor1, historically, these anti-slavery laws have not been enforced, and traffickers and slave owners have exploited children, women and men with impunity.

When we first began work in India, slavery seemed hidden: Many people told us they didn’t believe it still existed in the country, and those who were aware of it didn’t have hope that anything could change.

But the scales are starting to tip toward justice – and, every day, we are seeing proof that makes us more confident that slavery in India can end within our lifetime.

What We Do

RESCUE VICTIMS

We uncover cases of sex trafficking and support local, national and specialized anti-trafficking police forces with rescue operations, help with evidence collection and provide crisis counseling for survivors during rescue operations.

BRING CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE

Our advocates support the prosecution of traffickers, pimps and other perpetrators, and our social workers help survivors who have chosen to testify prepare to share the truth in court.

RESTORE SURVIVORS

We partner with several aftercare homes in India to ensure that survivors have a safe place to live, and provide ongoing trauma therapy and vocational and educational support.

STRENGTHEN JUSTICE SYSTEMS

We equip local law enforcement partners with tools and training to combat sex trafficking, raise awareness and help others in the community respond.

RESCUE VICTIMS

We uncover cases of forced labor and help local authorities and police units conduct rescue operations—ensuring that each victim receives an official government Release Certificate, which entitles him or her to government support.

BRING CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE

We advocate for police reports to be filed against owners, and fight in court for perpetrators to be convicted and sentenced.

RESTORE SURVIVORS

IJM social workers help support released slaves for at least two years, providing counseling and ensuring that children are able to go to school and adults can begin dignifying jobs in freedom.

STRENGTHEN JUSTICE SYSTEMS

In Bangalore and Chennai, we are partnering with the local government on a System Reform project to substantially improve the response to forced labor slavery. In our Delhi office, we are advocating for forced labor to be prioritized nationally.

“From my work on the frontlines, I can see the momentum for change building. I believe we are facing a very unique window of opportunity in India to make lasting change; to redirect the course of history. We can be the generation that ends slavery in India once and for all.”

- Saju Mathew, IJM Vice President of Regional Operations, South Asia

Our Progress

  • Since 2001, IJM and our trained partners have secured freedom for nearly 10,000 forced labor slaves and more than 800 victims of sex trafficking.

  • We have provided training to nearly 20,000 Indian officials, and are seeing them respond with unprecedented mass enforcement actions against forced labor slavery on their own initiative. This is what will make the fight against slavery sustainable.

  • 7600 former slaves have participated in IJM’s aftercare program since 2006. Many have gone on to start their own businesses, and two have even been elected to public office. Learn more »

  • We are now training partners to replicate our successful model, which has expanded our impact from three states to nine.

  • When we began our work in India, many people told us they didn’t believe it still existed in the country, and those who were aware of it didn’t have hope that anything could change. Now, it’s making front-page news and is regularly featured in all forms of media.

  • Our innovative two-year aftercare program for former slaves begins with a Freedom Training, where participants learn the basics of life in freedom—from opening a bank account to building healthy families—and includes seminars, one-on-one meetings and community support groups.

Our Teams in India

MUMBAI, INDIA

ESTABLISHED 2000

Focus

SEX TRAFFICKING

Field office director

Sanjay Macwan

CHENNAI, INDIA

ESTABLISHED 2001

Focus

FORCED LABOR SLAVERY

Field office director

Andrey Sawchenko

BANGALORE, INDIA

ESTABLISHED 2006

Focus

FORCED LABOR SLAVERY

Field office director

Peter Williams

KOLKATA, INDIA

ESTABLISHED 2006

Focus

SEX TRAFFICKING

Field office director

Biju Mathew

DELHI, INDIA

ESTABLISHED 2012

Focus

FORCED LABOR SLAVERY

Field office director

Ajoy Varghese

RECENT STORIES FROM INDIA

A woman boards a truck that will bring her out of the brick kiln, into safety.

Officials and IJM Partner NGO Rescue 40 from a Brick Kiln

One brave 10-year-old girl told officials about the long days she spent sprinkling hot...

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A little girl holds onto her father as officials explain they are now free.

Families Stunned as They Are Freed from Bondage

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Survivors of slavery celebrate on the day after rescue

Brick Kiln Owner Guilty for Trapping 12 in Slavery

The 10-year sentence is one of the longest in any bonded labor trafficking case in India.

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1In India, the most common form of forced labor is known as “bonded labor.”