India has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, there are still at least 270 million people living on less than US$1.90 per day. While laws, systems and attitudes regarding key 'fault lines' such as the caste system, gender and feudalism are rapidly changing, social change of this depth and scale necessarily takes time. In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that existing research suggests that all forms of modern slavery continue to exist in India, including intergenerational bonded labour, forced child labour, commercial sexual exploitation, forced begging, forced recruitment into nonstate armed groups and forced marriage. While bonded labour has been outlawed for decades, survey data and pre-existing research confirms that this practice still persists. Bonded labour is not only illegal, research confirms that it has serious negative health impacts for those affected, who typically work in unsanitary and dangerous working conditions with no access to health care.
Parveen tells of how she was forced to go for mill work to help pay off debt after her mother borrowed money to pay for her father's medical treatment
My mother started to go for the daily wage labour. They said that my dad had a problem in heart we borrowed money and treated him. Even my brothers started to go for work. My father was scared that he will die; so he wanted to see my sister’s wedding. So we borrowed money and my sister got married. After this our debt increased and my mother found it very difficult to repay; the loan people will come home and fight with us. So after eight standard I stopped my studies and went for the mill work.
As told to the Institute of Development Studies for their report 'Patterns and Dynamics of Bonded Labour and Child Labour in the Spinning Mills of Tamil Nadu: Findings from Life Story Analysis'