Vancouver Benefit 2020
An Online Gala Experience featuring IJM Chennai
October 14, 2020 • 7:00-8:00 PM (PT)
Slavery is illegal almost everywhere – but today an estimated 40.3 million children, women and men are trapped as slaves around the world.
With a focus on investigations, IJM Canada hopes you can join us on October 14th to learn more about our work in Chennai where we combat forced labour slavery.
Forced labour slavery uses deception, threats or violence to coerce someone to work for little to no pay. Although slavery has been outlawed in nearly every country, millions of men, women and children are working as slaves in brick kilns, rice mills, garment factories, fishing operations and many other industries.
It is a violent crime. Physical and sexual assault are rampant. In many cases, IJM has documented forced labour slaves who have been beaten, gang-raped, locked in tiny rooms, starved and even killed. Victims who try to escape commonly report being tracked down, beaten and returned to the facility. But many victims of slavery don’t try to run away, because owners use fear and deception that traps them more strongly than physical locks and walls.
IJM works to locate victims and remove them from the place where they’re in danger.
Nearly every special moment in Chithra’s life—childhood, marriage, motherhood—was spent trapped on a farm under a slave owner’s watchful eye.
She was only 2 years old when her family moved to his farm to work off an $87 loan, and she was 7 when she was forced to begin working alongside the adults. Every day, she and her family toiled in the owner’s sugarcane fields, tended his herd of cows, and made countless bricks in his small kiln. She remembers the work as backbreaking and exhausting, as her hands were constantly torn by splinters and burned by hot bricks.
Worse was the daily violence and abuse of the slave owner and his henchmen. Chithra watched him beat her parents and relatives with his fists, feet and even sticks, and she remembers being punched repeatedly in the head for making mistakes. The owner also lobbied disgusting threats at them as they worked—degrading their ethnic caste and leaving them haunted by his words at night.
Chithra eventually married a young man at the farm and was overjoyed to become pregnant, but the harsh work conditions led her to miscarry. She says,
Later, Chithra managed to deliver a healthy baby boy at the farm, but she feared he would inherit her life of slavery. Their extended family attempted to escape several times, but the owner always harassed their relatives in other villages until he found his workers and brought them back. Their situation was so dire, one man later shared, “we decided to accept our fate and die here.”
But on May 7, 2018, the cries of Chithra’s family were finally heard: The local Released Bonded Labourers’ Association — a network of women and men who survived modern slavery, like Chithra’s—brought her family’s case to the government for action. Authorities liberated all 17 children, women and men from the farm where Chithra had spent 20 years of her life. Officials provided them with release certificates to break their false debts to the owner and gave them funds to re-start life in freedom.
“On the day of rescue…I felt relieved, overjoyed and determined,” she says. “It was too emotional for me to describe in words.”
For the first time, Chithra can now live on her own terms. She travels where she wants, cooks whatever she wants, and spends time with her family in peace. She’s excited to raise her son, Raja, with the experiences and education she never had, and dreams of him becoming the first doctor in the family—a whole new possibility now that they are free.
What to Expect
Compelling stories of rescue and survivors
The latest on IJM's work in Chennai
Join with us in raising $300,000 to end forced labour slavery in Chennai
Anu George Canjanathoppil
Executive Director, IJM Canada
Business Development, Nicola Wealth
Director of Development and Mobilization, BC
RSVP & Schedule
RSVP by September 16th to receive a gift in the mail!
October 14th, 2020
7:00 PM - Cocktail
7:15 PM - Program