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.
Muthu was promised Rs 600 per month as well as another Rs 30,000 at the end of her three-year contract. She was not paid a penny after being fired just before the end of her contract.
The first three months of my work was considered a training period so this was not calculated into the three-year contract. I was fed rotten rice and as soon as I joined the mill I developed stomach pain.
After two years and eight months of working at the mill I was accused by the supervisor of stealing a jewel from a co-worker. I was fired and not paid for any of my previous work.
We tried to fight it but were only given Rs. 2,457. We are poor and cannot fight against such big people. The cheaters should be punished.
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.