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Debt Bondage: Bonded Labor - Vulnerable Women & Children - Discrimination - Exploitation

Bonded labor, also known as debt bondage and peonage, happens when people give themselves into slavery as security against a loan or when they inherit a debt from a relative. It can be made to look like an employment agreement but one where the worker starts with a debt to repay – usually in brutal conditions – only to find that repayment of the loan is impossible. Then, their enslavement can become permanent.

Bonded labor is designed to exploit workers. The cyclical process begins with a debt, whether acquired or inherited, that cannot be paid immediately. Then, while the worker labors to repay the debt, the employer continues to add on additional expenses. For instance, a laborer may begin with an initial debt of $200. While working and unable to leave, this worker needs a shelter, food and water. The employer tacks on $25 per day to the debt to cover those expenses. Consequently, the employee only grows his debt while continuing to labor for his debtor, and repayment is impossible.

http://www.endslaverynow.org/learn/slavery-today/bonded-labor

Oftentimes this debt is passed down from generation to generation, making it eerily similar to chattel slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s seen throughout the world when employers force the children of employees to labor in the same situation as their parents in order to help pay off their parents’ debt or when parents or family members pass away and employers require another body to fill the lost role – all under the pretense of a debt owed.

Bonded labor is used across a variety of industries in order to produce products for consumption around the world.

Migrant laborers are particularly vulnerable to this form of enslavement. In their home countries, migrant laborers contract with labor agencies and employers for a destination country, looking for an economic opportunity. These situations are ripe for exploitation because agencies and employers hold a debt or a bond over these employees. Instead of honoring a genuine term of employment, some recruiters or employers unlawfully exploit the initial debt by adding immigration, housing and other fees that are designed to keep the migrant workers from ever being capable of repayment. In some scenarios, these recruiters and employers confiscate legal immigration documents, making legal employees entirely dependent on them, or require the temporary work in order to maintain their legal status. In other instances, recruiters falsify documents or ignore them altogether, once again making migrant workers vulnerable and dependent. In these situations, workers often fear seeking redress.

Bonded Labor throughout the World

The international Palermo Protocol requires the criminalization of bonded labor as a form of trafficking. Still, this particular system of slavery is deeply entrenched around the world. It’s most common in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In fact, the majority of the world’s slaves live and work in India in a form of bonded labor.

Anti-Slavery

http://www.antislavery.org/english/slavery_today/bonded_labour/

BONDED LABOUR

PREVENTION & ELIMINATION OF BONDED LABOUR

http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---declaration/documents/publication/wcms_334875.pdf – 78 Pages

Millions of South Asian women, men and children are bonded to their employers, working for little or no wages because their earnings are retained in part or full to repay an outstanding loan. The victims of bonded labour tend to be drawn from the poorest and least educated segments of the population, from low castes and religious minorities. Bondage often begins when a worker takes a loan or salary advance from his or her employer to pay for a large expense or from a labour contractor who finds employment for migrant workers in distant areas. Then the debtor, and frequently other family members, is obliged to work for the employer or contractor for reduced wages until the debt is repaid. Additional loans are taken out to meet essential needs and the debt mounts, creating a perpetual cycle of over‐indebtedness and exploitation. Ever larger debts strengthen the employer’s control to the point where basic freedoms are denied to the whole household; the debt can even be passed down to the next generation.

Since bonded labour results primarily from the inter‐linkage of credit and labour markets, access for the ultra‐poor to appropriate financial services is an important starting point, but it alone is certainly not a sufficient response. Experience shows that savings and credit groups used to deliver microfinance can be a useful platform for providing other essential economic and social services to poor households, strengthening their capacity to generate a livelihood and reducing dependence on their employer. It is perhaps counter‐intuitive to think that financial services can help bonded workers who are already highly indebted, especially if loans are considered to be the main type of service available. However, the organizations that participated in these projects took a broader view, emphasizing individual, household or group savings in the first place, but also insurance, leasing and financial education, in addition to small loans for income generating activities.

Извор: WUNRN – 07.11.2016

 

 

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