There are an estimated almost 8 million people living in modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). 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.
Hasnain, a 15 year-old garment worker tells of how factory owners in India bribe police to prevent raids on places using child labour. Hasnain is forced to work long hours for little pay in order to help provide for his family.
Police used to raid the factory and take us to the police station whenever they needed money. My owner used to pay them Rs.500 to Rs.1,000 per month to stop them raiding.
Last year I was arrested because the owner forgot to pay the bribe. Usually the senior worker will ask the child workers to hide in the toilet when the police come but this time I could not escape and I was released only after giving a bribe.
I come from the Bareilly district in Uttar Pradesh. My father is a construction worker but I came to work at the same factory as my brother.
I work around 12 to 14 hours a day and earn between Rs 4,000 and 5,000 a month. I spend around half of that just on my food.
Narrative provided by Anti-Slavery International from their report ‘Slavery on the High Street: Forced Labour in the manufacture of garments for international brands’, June 2012.