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Vancouver Benefit Dinner 2019

Slavery is illegal almost everywhere – but today an estimated 40.3 million children, women and men are trapped as slaves around the world.

Traffickers and slave owners use deception, threats or violence to force these families to work for little or no pay. Modern-day slaves are often denied adequate food or sleep, and they’re barred from leaving for school or medical care.

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.

“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.”

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.

After years in slavery, Thaiyamma says they began to live “like zombies,” no longer able to care about their hygiene, food or dreams for the future. They kept Lavanya in a makeshift swing made out of an old sari, and they grieved every time she cried out in hunger.

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,

“I never knew I was going to see you. I never knew that I would meet you in freedom, and here you are.”

You Can Send Rescue Today.

Give a gift today and be a last minute responder for a child in need of rescue or a social worker holding the hands of a now-free mother.

You can make the most impact as a Freedom Partner today.

Your generous monthly support of $31 or more will send rescue to vulnerable children and families at a moment’s notice, stand with them as they rebuild their lives in freedom and see their abusers in court – no matter how long justice takes.

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