October 24, 2019 - Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg MB
Slavery is illegal almost everywhere – but today an estimated 40.3 million children, women and men are trapped as slaves around the world.
IJM has met forced labour slaves who have been beaten, gang raped, locked in tiny rooms and starved for attempting to escape. In the countries where we work, the laws clearly ban forced labour slavery, but enforcement has historically been weak, with very few convictions and even fewer meaningful sentences. IJM is working with partners in the public justice system to ensure that law enforcement and prosecutors have the training and support they need to identify victims, launch rescues, arrest suspects and bring criminals to justice.
After their daughter Lavanya was born, Thaiyamma and Devendran found that their daily-wage jobs were not enough to get by. Instead they found a job at a wood-cutting unit – but within the first week they discovered this new job was not what it seemed.
There were no walls keeping Thaiyamma and Devendran trapped, but they feared the owner’s wealth and power. So they worked tirelessly as he moved them from worksite to worksite to clear trees, bearing his insults and regular physical violence.
“When we were in that place, we were very lean, wearing torn dresses with our eyes sunken in. People who saw us told we looked like dead bodies. Life then was like hell…I thought there was no dawn in my life.”
- Thaiyamma, Survivor of Forced Labour
Everything changed when Thaiyamma realized she had become pregnant again. She knew they had to get free somehow. Her body was too frail; she needed nutrition, medical care and rest.
As her belly grew bigger and the abuse grew worse, Thaiyamma remembered how—years earlier—someone had seen their suffering and gave her the phone number of an IJM investigator. Desperate, she called IJM and begged for release, especially for her daughter and other children.
IJM and local government officials arrived to the worksite in August 2016, and it was the heavily pregnant Thaiyamma who stepped forward boldly to describe all they had endured. Other women soon joined her, and then the men, too. Authorities rescued the families and arrested the slave owner that same day. They were free at last.
Their son, Bablu, was born just a few weeks later, safe in a hospital bed. As she held him for the first time, Thaiyamma whispered in awe:
What to Expect
Compelling stories of rescue and survivors
The latest on IJM's slavery casework efforts
Join with us in raising $50,000 to end slavery in India
Anu George Canjanathoppil
Incoming Executive Director, IJM Canada
Director of Development and Mobilization for Manitoba & Saskatchewan
RSVP & Schedule
RSVP by October 16th
October 24th, 2019
7:30PM - Cocktail Reception & Program
9:00PM - Gallery Tour