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

IJM Supports Indian Government Rescuing 22 Children from Jewelry Factories

TAMIL NADU, INDIA – February 7, 2023 Tamil Nadu government officials and police carried out a rescue operation to free 22 boys—ages 15 to 17—being exploited at multiple urban jewelry factories after being controlled by an interstate trafficking ring.

Authorities believe the alleged traffickers had paid families in the northern state of West Bengal between 5,000 and 10,000 rupees ($60-120 USD) to send their sons for work in the city of Chennai, in the south. They promised the boys would be “apprentices” to learn the jewelry trade and get good food and accommodations.

Instead, these teen boys found themselves in bonded labour, forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day, trapped on-site at the factories, and had no access to health care. If they got sick, the owners gave medications themselves. The payment advances were given to them as false debts the boys were forced to repay through their labour. Some boys had been working for just a month; others had lived this way for years.

After discovering these conditions, one district official shared, “I am not able to come to terms with the situation in which these kids are working right now. We have to do something now.”

On Feb. 7, 2023 officials from the Labour Department, Revenue Department, and police invited IJM to assist the rescue operation as a knowledge partner advising on the provisions of the law.

Beautiful jewelry that destroyed lives

One IJM staff member observed, “They were housed in dingy, unventilated, unhygienic premises and made to work for long hours. The boys had to handle harmful chemicals as they cut jewelry into beautiful ornaments. The rooms they worked in had grill doors that was kept locked by the owner, who monitored their work all through the day. Sometimes their work hours extended through the night as well.”

He added, “It was surprising to see that jewels meant to beautify the body are the ones that destroy the lives of many young boys. Thanks to the government’s initiative, these young lives were saved from withering in the abusive workplaces.”

IJM staff were encouraged to see officials work collaboratively to bring the boys to safety and offer critical care within 48 hours of the rescue. A top official from the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) personally visited the boys to check on their well-being and offer support. Visibly relaxed, many of the boys played together as they waited for officials to document their stories and provide paper and funds to mark their freedom.

Following the rescue, the local Child Welfare Committee (CWC) traced the boys’ families and helped parents travel back and forth to take the boys home. The government paid ticket costs as needed and even made their train reservations.

Police have filed initial reports against 10 employers accused of exploiting the children, which included charges under India’s anti-bonded labour law. Other workers were found at the factories but are not suspected to be in bonded labour.

IJM staff in Tamil Nadu will continue to support the government’s efforts to prosecute the case, and the team in West Bengal will support the boys’ aftercare journey and any follow-up research into this alleged trafficking ring.

You might also be interested in…

see more

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.

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