Life in Brick Kiln Debt Bondage

A series of ‘Foto Friday’ posts focusing on the lives of people living in extreme poverty around the world. Over 1 billion people across the globe live on the equivalent of less than $1 a day to meet all their needs. Being more aware of the lives of the world’s poor can help  us reevaluate the extent of our own hardships and build empathy and compassion.

Shockingly there are probably more slaves in the world today than at any time in human history – between 10 and 30 million.

Modern slavery can take many forms, and includes debt bondage, where an impoverished person or family is forced to work in order to repay a loan, often with ruinous rates of interest that make it impossible for them to escape. In many cases the debt is then transferred onto their children, and grandchildren, with many families remaining in slavery for generations.

In India, Pakistan and Nepal, more than a million people work in rural brickworks, enslaved into debt bondage, and forced to work long hours doing hard manual labour, for barely three meals a day and a small mud room for them and their family. Children are also required to work, typically from the age of ten, and sometimes much younger. No education and little in the way of health care is available. Complicity is enforced through beatings and threats to withdraw food and shelter.

Though illegal, lack of enforcement and official corruption means the widespread practice continues.

Several charities are working alongside the United Nations to expose and combat this form of modern day slavery.


Photo from Global Giving 

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  1. A very important problem to highlight. I only became aware of it recently through a friend who has connections in one of the countries affected. One of the issues seems to be to help people out of the kilns EARLY (well, preferably stop them ending up there in the first place!), before they become institutionalised and it’s then much more difficult to ‘rehabilitate’ them.

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