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Slavery Alive And Well In South Asia

Millions of people in India and Pakistan are victims of a modern form of slavery known as bonded labor or peshgi. As Dawood Ahmed writes in The Express Tribune, Pakistan and India remain amazingly ineffective at cracking down on bonded labor. Despite over a million laborers being enslaved in Pakistan’s brick kiln industry alone,

As at 2009, the Pakistani government had not convicted a single person of using bonded labour, even though a law was passed in 1992 that criminalised holding bonded labour; additionally, between 1989 and 2006 only 8,530 bonded labourers were freed in Pakistan. The Indian government’s record is equally dismal: In the five year period between 2001 and 2006, even the heavily affected state of Tamil Nadu reported a mere 1,679 cases of bonded labour.

Former Team Mead associate Ben Skinner has worked on global slavery issues for years, and has written an excellent book on the subject. Publicizing this evil is an important part of fighting it; countries that tolerate widespread, flagrant slavery should feel the shame.

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  • Luke Lea

    Keep in mind, however, that the abolition of child labor is a luxury that underdeveloped countries cannot afford. There were bonded children in Scottish coal mines 200 years ago. A terrible human price has been paid to build the modern world — and still is being paid in places not yet modern.

    As Jesus said: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Capital itself is a kind of stored servitude; it is the accumulated crime and sacrifice of centuries, plus interest. It should not, shall not, own us.

  • Riki Tiki Tavi

    Skinner is a polemicist, not an analyst.

    The words “slave,” “serf,” and “bondman” have very specific meanings in the social sciences. They are not interchangeable, nor are the differences in meaning insignificant. For an analyst to conflate these concepts is to exhibit ignorance.

    Not your smartest post.

  • JKB

    Funny, the author of the linked article skips right over the British Coolie trade that carried “indentured’ servitude for Britain right up until the Empire started collapsing.

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