Two sisters aged 8 and 10 fled from a duck farm and bravely journeyed on foot to find their way home to their parents—who were about 400km away. Local authorities intervened to safely reunited the girls with their family. On June 11, 2023, they were formally released from child-bonded labour.
TELANGANA, INDIA —
The owner of the duck farm, who was a distant relative to the family, had given an advance of 10,000 rupees ($161.30 CAD) to the parents and took the children away to work on his farm, which was located in a remote area beside a pond in a neighbouring district.
The unsuspecting girls were forced to care for 100 ducks from 6am to 7pm every day, enduring physical and verbal abuse. Each week, they had to ensure that they had about 300–420 eggs ready to sell.
Despite their hard work, the sisters were made to sleep out in the open. They were not allowed inside the tarpaulin-covered hut at the farm, except during rain. After enduring two months of abuse, the girls made the bold decision to escape.
The collaborative efforts of government officials, the Child Welfare Committee and IJM turned this brave escape into freedom.
When the community members found the girls wandering the streets, begging, and looking lost, they notified the local police. The local government and the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), with the assistance of IJM, rescued the two minor girls on June 11, 2023.
After summoning the parents to the government office, IJM guided the officials in adhering to standard procedures related to child bonded labour cases.
On June 16, the district government prepared Release Certificates that officially broke the family’s false debts to the owner and entitle them to government benefits. On the same day, the girls joyfully returned home with their parents.
The parents expressed their gratitude for the safe return of their daughters and vowed “We will never send them to work again. We want them to go to school. They will start school next week.”
An IJM staff member reported, “The children are very happy to be back with their family and friends.”
The officials are acquiring the knowledge to effectively respond to cases of bonded labour.
The officials seamlessly collaborated with IJM in leading this rescue. They had recently attended a state-level workshop on bonded labour and human trafficking led by the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights in collaboration with IJM.
An IJM staff member observed, “The CWC expressed their desire for their team to acquire knowledge of the process, as it would enable them to handle more cases with a focus on bonded labour in the near future.”
IJM will continue to provide ongoing support to the two girls and their family to help them recover from this traumatic experience. IJM is also working with local authorities to file a First Information Report and ensure that the suspect responsible for exploiting the two minor girls is held accountable.