Family Freed from Five Years of Bondage at a Poultry & Goat Farm 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 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 star edit arrow-top arrow-right arrow-left arrow-bottom check search close square speaker-up speaker-mute return play pause love

Family Freed from Five Years of Bondage at a Poultry & Goat Farm

On June 18, IJM’s casework partner SHED* India helped local officials rescue four people from a farm where they had been enslaved for the last five years.

This family included a mother, father and two adult sons, all of whom had been forced to work in harsh conditions to repay a powerful loan shark who controlled them.

Today, that man is in police custody and the survivors are beginning to rebuild their lives in freedom. Their story represents the challenges many people in poverty face in southern India—but also the growing movement to ensure all people are protected from bonded labour and abuse in their community.

Manipulation & Abuse

The family in this case had run their own small business selling iron equipment until they fell on hard times. With no other options, they had to borrow 112,500 rupees (about $1,500 USD) from a wealthy and well-connected businessman in their community to keep themselves afloat.

Unbeknownst to them, this man had grown his wealth by making high-interest, predatory loans to families like theirs—and he would soon use this debt to manipulate and enslave them.

Even though they made regular payments for the next year, this man claimed their debt had ballooned to 275,000 rupees (about $3,700) and began harassing them to pay up. He demanded they start working at his personal farm to repay the debt and refused to let them go anywhere else.

For the next five years, this family was trapped in bonded labour and forced to do whatever this man said. They tended his poultry and goats and farmed his fields, all without regular pay or access to the outside world. If they ever spoke up about his lies, they were physically beaten or verbally and sexually abused.

Rescue & Rehabilitation

This month, IJM’s partner SHED India heard about this family’s suffering and brought their case to local authorities to investigate. Even though many lockdowns are still in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials recognized the urgency of this case and planned a rescue operation on June 18 to free the victims.

That day, prominent government officials including the Sub Collector (who oversees many labour issues) and the District Superintendent of Police arrived at the farm to interview the family about their experience, confirm the abuse, and bring them to safety. They arrested the farm owner and have filed a police report against him under India’s laws against bonded labour, trafficking, confinement, verbal abuse, and sexual assault.

SHED India’s director was deeply impressed with the “ardent involvement and commitment” of police leaders in this case, marking a major improvement in how law enforcement treats bonded labour cases.

He remarked, “The District Superintendent himself took initiative to file the First Information Report (FIR) as soon as possible and also visited other sites owned by the accused and urged the labourers to boldly testify, assuring them of his full cooperation and vouched for their safety and protection.”

SHED India staff have provided immediate aftercare for the rescued family, and local officials helped them open bank accounts and provide funds for their rehabilitation. They also gave the families Release Certificates, which formally declare them as free and entitle them to other government protections.

Partnerships in Practice

Through cases like this one, IJM staff are impressed and grateful for the ways our grassroots partners like SHED India are taking leadership in the fight to end bonded labour.

In the past, many local organizations either did not know bonded labour existed or bypassed local authorities in their work. Our vision is to see these capable partners engage alongside the government—like this case showed—so they can effectively rescue people from abuse and improve the justice system so it protects all people.

We have been working alongside SHED India since 2013 and have helped fund their anti-slavery work since 2016. Building on IJM’s training and mentorship, they are now regularly liberating children and families from bondage and helping local officials create stronger, safer communities.

“All the efforts put in by our team in empowering the partners is now paying off,” one IJM staff member shared. “Today these partners independently work to make sure the FIR is filed, the accused is arrested, bank accounts are opened, and initial rehabilitation is processed. They are able to successfully complete a bonded labour rescue from identification, rescue, rehabilitation to prosecution.”

Altogether, the diligent work of trained partners and motivated local officials is creating a safer environment where families like this one can trust they will be protected, and where future generations will not have to fear bonded labour anymore.

*Social Health and Education Development

Newsletter Sign Up

Stay connected to the work! Sign up to get updates straight to your inbox.

Media Contact

We're here to answer your questions. Please fill out the form below and someone from our team will follow up with you soon.

More Information

Petra Kooman

Director of Marketing and Public Relations
pkooman@ijm.ca
519.679.5030 x.229

Make an Impact

Your skills, talents, and ideas are a force for change. From birthday parties to polar dips, your fundraising campaign can stop the violence.

Learn More

Thank you for signing up to learn more about starting a fundraiser. We will be in touch soon!

In the meantime, please take a look at our free guide: 25 Tips for the Novice Fundraiser.

Need Help?

Need more information?
We're here to help.
Contact us at events@ijm.ca