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Kamala Sarup: Bonded labourers Continue to Die

Bonded labourers Continue to Die

By Kamala Sarup

Bonded labourers are facing problems like deprivation from basic education, land, employment, abuse, neglect and exploitation, all over the world.

Bonded labour is a form of human exploitation. Millions of people are forced into hard labour.

Unfortunately thousands of promises have only remained in lip services and political gambit. Bonded labourers problems are similar in many countries. Lack of commitment and policy implementation pose as obstacles in solving the crisis.

Many commitments in the national and international level and the all concern authority have made tall promises.

These laws and many more do not even reach the target groups. The main problem is the lack of commitment.

If we are not able to protect these vulnerable people immediately it might be too late.

This discrimination system has put people in a powerless.

We should remember some of the major indicators of a country's development are that the people are able to feed themselves.

Even bonded labor is outlawed by the 1956 U.N. Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, but still they are treated like animals like: bought and sold, and fed, clothed and sheltered just to maintain life work and breed.

1. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has estimated that 250 million children between the ages of five and fourteen work in developing countries-at least 120 million on a full time basis. Sixty-one percent of these are in Asia, 32 percent in Africa, and 7 percent in Latin America. Most working children in rural areas are found in agriculture; many children work as domestics; urban children work in trade and services, with fewer in manufacturing and construction. (Source:

2. An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year for labour or sex, and about 1 million children are thought to be exploited in the multi-billion dollar sex industry, UNICEF says. A lot of people mentioned child labour in their poll answers, with 218 million working children in the world, according to the U.N. International Labour Organisation. Some 5.7 million work in especially horrific circumstances, including the virtual slavery of bonded labour. Sex attacks, prostitution and drug addiction are dangers for tens of millions of children who live on the streets and rubbish dumps of the world's cities. (Source: AlertNet child danger poll 2006)

3. Despite the UN prohibition, Anti-Slavery International estimates that "between 10 and 20 million people are being subjected to debt bondage today." ( Source:UN Report)

4. There are roughly a million landless waged labourers in Nepal. On 17 July 2000, Nepal made an announcement wherein it abolished the Kamaiya system. Despite this, thousands of former bonded labourers are today living from hand to mouth with no means to support themselves or their families. Today, more than 150 former bonded labourers were arrested in Nepal. Out of about 35,000 'freed' Kamaiyas, who belong to ethnic Tharu community, in four districts of mid and far-western Nepal – Banke, Dang, Kailali and Kanchanpur - 19,000 former Kamaiyas are yet to get land plots as promised by the government. (Source;nepalnewsJuly 20 06 and (Source: )

It is very necessary that the world authority understand the importance of the overall growth of the poor bonded labourers with the various training, education, food, employment. It is also necessary to make arrangements for the social and financial development.

All the countries should develop programmes for bonded labour. Indeed we need to act actively to abolish the practice of bonded labour.

We need to provide advice to formulate and plan for economic development. It should also aim for increasing the income of rural poor by improving their productive capacity by increasing institution credit skills and appropriate programs.

Formulation and implementation of a bonded labour program strategy which includes improved economic opportunity for them to enhance the status of the bonded labour is a good begging.

Efforts from all quarters are important to remove this growing social abuse.


A Nepali Journalist and Story Writer Kamala Sarup is an editor of Some of the main focus of the e-magazine have been on disarmament, conflict resolution, nonviolent sanctions, conflicts and crises. Its activities include training,research and supports peace, democracy and development in societies undergoing crisis and change. Kamala Sarup is specialising in in-depth reporting and writing on Peace Resolutions, Anti war, Women, Terrorism, Anti Fascism, Democracy, and Development.

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