shield arrow-simple-alt-top arrow-simple-alt-left arrow-simple-alt-right arrow-simple-alt-bottom facebook instagram linkedin medium pinterest rss search-alt shaper twitter video-play arrow-long-right arrow-long-left arrow-long-top arrow-long-bottom arrow-simple-right arrow-simple-left arrow-simple-bottom readio arrow-simple-top speaker-down plus minus cloud hb pin camera globe cart rotate Group-35 star edit arrow-top arrow-right arrow-left arrow-bottom check search Close square speaker-up speaker-mute return play pause love new-tab equalizer

40 People Freed from Bonded Labour at a Road Construction Site

HYDERABAD, India – Last month, IJM’s casework partner Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) supported the local government in bringing 40 people to safety from bonded labour. The 40 individuals, including 11 children, had been in bondage for two years constructing a major highway.

These labourers had been trafficked from villages across the state of Telangana and were being forced to work near the city of Hyderabad. They had all come from India’s Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, which are protected people groups who are often disadvantaged and vulnerable to exploitation.

The trafficker who lured these 40 labourers to the worksite had been operating with impunity for decades.

One victim says she had worked for him off and on for 25 years, and another had known him for 12.

The site owners used debts to control and manipulate the labourers. They charged high interest rates and added new charges—even fining workers for being sick—and never let the workers see their accounts. They also forbid the labourers from leaving to find other work, meaning they could control and exploit them for years.

As they worked, the families also endured harsh living conditions, with crude houses that often flooded and poor-quality food provided by the site managers. If anyone complained, they were verbally abused or beaten until they stayed quiet.

Staff from FSD heard about the ongoing exploitation at the construction site and alerted local officials who could rescue the victims. Because these officials were unfamiliar with bonded labour, FSD helped review India’s laws and the standard operating procedures used to rescue people from abuse like this.

On June 19, the government assembled a team who arrived at the worksite at 7:00 a.m., and quickly interviewed the labourers to confirm the truth, and then brought all 40 people to safety at a government office. Officials then took the victims’ detailed statements and helped them access medical care and COVID-19 tests.

Officials helped transport the victims back to their homes, where FSD staff will help in their long-term rehabilitation.

In addition to their aftercare, FSD will also follow up with the government on Release Certificates for the labourers (to break their false debts and help them secure government benefits) and in filing a police case against the men who abused them.

Become a Freedom Partner Today

You might also be interested in…

About Stories see more
Revisiting Worksites Shows IJM's Criminal Deterrence Method is Proving Sustainable and Effective

Revisiting six cases demonstrates IJM's model for criminal deterrence is proving effective. Effective law enforcement—including arresting, charging and convicting perpetrators—creates a long-term preventative effect among offenders and is now curbing exploitation in these worksites and others.

Mallesh: Story Update
Mallesh was 8 years old when he was brutally enslaved on a rose farm. Today, he’s choosing to use his freedom to free others. He said: “I want to have the power to help others. Imagine putting a full stop to child labour."
Twenty Years Enslaved at a Mango Farm – Now Free

Survivor Leaders in the Released Bonded Labourers Association (RBLA) rallied authorities to rescue a couple who had been enslaved at a mango farm for about 20 years. IJM had known about this couple since 2016, but they were always too scared to ever share the truth about their experience, due to the power of the owner.
Young Couple Rescued from Bondage & Death Threats at a Brick Kiln

Finally freed: the young couple who had been enslaved at a brick kiln for three years were rescued thanks to IJM's partnership with Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) and local authorities. The young woman was 3 months pregnant. The owner had refused to let them leave and demanded they pay him $1,333 or he'd kill them with a motorbike. Terrified, the couple managed to contact relatives, who passed the case to FSD.

You Can Help Send Rescue Today.

When you give a gift today, you’ll be fighting slavery, violence, and injustice across the globe. Together, we can end slavery and violence in our lifetime.

You can make the most impact as a Freedom Partner today.

Your generous monthly support will help send rescue to vulnerable children and families at a moment’s notice, stand with them as they rebuild their lives in freedom and have perpetrators held accountable.


Donor Portal

Review your giving, tax statements and contact info via the IJM Donor Portal.

please sign in
Email Sign Up
Get updates from IJM on stories from the field, events in your area and opportunities to get involved.
sign up