There are thousands of families in south-eastern Nepal that have been living on the same land for generations, but they are held in a form of debt bondage to local landlords. Without land rights, they are faced with the constant threat of eviction, making it easy for landowners to exploit them. The Freedom Fund’s NGO partner, Janachetana Dalit Sangam (JDS), has helped groups of bonded labourers struggle successfully for rights to land and the construction of their houses.
Many bonded labourers stay in slavery because they fear being evicted from their homes and having no means of survival. Darshan Mandal, a former bonded labour and local leader, explained the importance of a recent success in their fight for land rights and housing:
“Most people living here are Dalit [low caste] and harwa-charuwa [bonded labourers]. We work for landowners in the village. We were not properly unified before and were exploited at our work and every area of our life.
Representatives of JDS have united us and taught us to protect [our] rights…through advocacy. We organised several meetings to discuss our rights and our desire to improve the situation of our community.
With the support of JDS, the construction of 70 houses under the [government’s] People’s Residential Program has been approved and recently the construction of houses has begun.
We want to thank JDS for their support. Our dream to have land and a house registered in our name has been fulfilled.”
The Freedom Fund’s South-Eastern Nepal Hotspot works to end inter-generational bonded labour, helping victims come together for their rights to land, income, education and dignity. Find out more about our South-Eastern Nepal Hotspot here.
Photo credit: Ginny Baumann/The Freedom Fund