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Five families freed from bonded labour at a wood-cutting site

Five families, including young children, have been freed from bonded labour at a wood-cutting site, where they faced physical and sexual violence for five years, thanks to IJM and local authorities.

Last Thursday, October 22, 17 labourers, including a 12-year-old girl and five boys aged 5 to 12, were brought to freedom. They had been forced to chop down trees seven days a week and, at night, the families slept under tarpaulins and branches, exposed to the elements and painfully undernourished.
Two weeks ago, one of the families tried to escape this abuse, but the owner tracked them down and beat them with a wooden log.

The terrifying incident pushed the other families to reach out for help in the community, which brought the case to IJM.

The cruel owner used physical violence and brutal insults to keep them working, even during COVID-19 lockdowns. He also allegedly sexually assaulted at least one woman.
Our team rallied local law enforcement to inspect the worksite. Even as we arrived, young children were already at work chopping wood.

The lead government official on the case said: “I am shocked to see children working here. Also, the women labourers have undergone inexplicable torture. I want the police report to be filed with all the relevant laws and ensure the perpetrator is not spared.”
The families have now been brought to safety and authorities arrested the owner and took him into custody. IJM will help support public prosecutors in the legal trial against him—so he cannot hurt people again.
The families will join IJM’s two-year aftercare programme
, which will help them adjust to life in freedom, overcome trauma, and learn new skills to help them stay safe long-term. These families can look forward to a future of freedom and the children will get to go to school and play freely.

We’re so grateful to our Freedom Partners for making this possible, even in these difficult times.

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When you give a gift today, you’ll be fighting slavery, violence, and injustice across the globe. Together, we can end slavery in our lifetime. From December 1-8th 2020, to have your gift MATCHED visit IJM's Big Give appeal: Bit.ly/IJMBigGive2020

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