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IJM partners with government to address bonded labour

The State Government of Tamil Nadu is holding a Sensitisation Programme from 10 July to 11 August 2017 in eleven districts and 22 sub divisions.

A joint partnership between International Justice Mission and the State Government, the programme aims to inform district officials of the new Central Sector Scheme (CSS) on Bonded Labour Rehabilitation 2016 and equip them to fight the crime.

The CSS was launched last year to help survivors sustain freedom through government funding; however, it had not been implemented by officials due to lack of awareness. The District Collector affirmed the state government’s role in organising the programme during his inaugural address.

The half-day programme is divided into two parts. First, officials participate in the training—they learn what bonded labour is, how to identify bonded labourers, what their roles and responsibilities are, and how to implement the CSS. Following the training, they have a five-minute real life experience of being in a bonded labourer’s hut. When officials walk out of the set, they are greeted by survivors with a memento: a list of survivors from their district.

The bonded labour set caught everyone’s attention at the entrance of the Collector’s office. “I’ve seen people being moved or becoming emotional only by seeing films,” one Village Administrative Officer said. “But today the programme was inspiring. It moved me so much and I almost cried.”

The Labour Inspector exhorted the participants to approach the Labour Department officials for any kind of assistance related to bonded labour.

The Commissioner of Revenue Administration endorsed the programme by issuing a letter to all District Collectors asking the Revenue Divisional Offices and other officials to participate.

IJM is expecting thousands of officials to participate and for the survivors, this is essential.

“You are all serving the poor,” one survivor said. “Thanks for your support.”