The Freedom Fund’s Northern India hotspot aims to reduce trafficking, bonded labour and harmful child labour in two of India’s poorest states. Working with frontline organisations, we help communities build resistance to trafficking and slavery and reintegrate individuals coming out of situations of exploitation.
In Rajgarh village in Uttar Pradesh in northern India, with help from Freedom Fund partner PGS, residents have now sustained their freedom from bonded labour for over seven years by working on a stone quarry that is leased and run by former bonded labourers.
Some residents are now shareholders of a farming company they have set up to market the excess products of their agricultural work. Others stood for village positions in the recent elections. Some get work in the government’s employment guarantee scheme. Asked what her life is like now outside the exploitation of bonded labour, a woman answered “Now there’s no pressure, no fear. That’s why I like it. Even now when they (the former slaveholders) meet us, they threaten and ask for money. I never give money. I don’t fear.”
Yet, some people in this village are still not free. Members of a community group set up with PGS’s help work to bring together those still enslaved, encouraging them to decide that they won’t work in bondage. The quarry contractors exploiting the villagers tell them not to listen, that the community group members are liars. But the members keep encouraging the villagers, and each other. One woman explained: “As a group you have a tool – the tool is unity”.