Bengaluru: International Justice Mission (IJM), is a global human rights organization which stands against bonded labour in Bangalore. It also lobbies with the Government, the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) and the police and has rescued nearly 1,262 bonded labourers since its inception in 2006.
Labourers were rescued from Bengaluru rural, Bengaluru urban, Chikballapur, Kolar, Ramanagara and Tumkur. They were from various industries like rock quarries, farms, brick kilns and bag factories. ‘‘We have conducted 85 rescue missions till now and rescued the highest number of bonded labourers in one single rescue mission -- 150 men, women and children,’’ disclosed an advocacy specialist of IJM.
Even though many NGOs and organisations are joining hands with the police to conduct successful rescue missions in the city and across the state, the number of labourers bonded seems to be on the rise.
‘‘On average, APSA rescues around 8 children every month from forced child labour. Around 80% of them are girls and almost 60% of the rescued children are almost always from other states. This is only an average, and statistics could be higher,’’ says Sheila Devaraj, APSA (Association for Promoting Social Action), Bangalore.
APSA, a rights-based child-centered community development organization, adds that most of the cases they come across involve children forcibly kept in custody as child labourers.
‘‘We also rescue children trafficked for prostitution, usually with the assistance of the local police and other networking partners,’’ says Sheila. ‘‘The last case we handled involved the rescue of a child of 5 from bonded labour on 11th July. Most of the children rescued are girls. There are cases involving boys too,’’ asserts Sheila.
Speaking about after-care facilities, Samuel George, Director, Aftercare, IJM, Bangalore, says, “a lot of rehabilitation is required in such cases and our social workers go to the villages which are home to the rescued labourers. It is there that we provide rehab care as they are both physical and psycho-social victims of abuse.’’ He adds that many labourers undergo sexual abuse and physical abuse by owners.
‘‘Even though they are rescued and come out free, they are still stuck in the thought that they are slaves to someone, which is a bit challenging for people providing aftercare facility,’’ says Samuel. ‘‘There is a huge need for sensitivity from the government and among the public. There is a serious lack of this, combined with apathy towards child victims of abuse,’’ sums up Sheila.
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