Editor's Note: Anti-trafficking expert Siddharth Kara is the author of “Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia,” providing the first comprehensive overview of bonded labor in South Asia.
During the CNN coverage of my last major research trip for my new book on bonded labor, I wrote an article about my findings of debt bondage, human trafficking, and child labor in several construction projects for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
Thousands of workers had been trafficked into Delhi by labor contractors to complete the massive construction projects for the Games at minimal cost.
These findings proved consistent with much of the construction sector across South Asia.
In fact, the labor conditions for the Commonwealth Games in 2010 were shockingly similar to those almost 30 years earlier when New Delhi hosted the Asian Games.
In the third chapter of my new book on bonded labour, I explore the shrimp industry of Bangladesh. Chingri (shrimp) harvesting provides a highly illustrative case study of the very powerful ways in which environmental change can directly contribute to human trafficking, debt bondage, and forced labor exploitation, especially in the far reaches of the developing world.
To research the shrimp industry of Bangladesh requires a journey to the cyclone-wracked southwestern reaches of the country.
Here, one finds four stages to Bangladesh’s shrimp industry supply chain: 1 shrimp fry (baby shrimp) collection, shrimp farming, the distribution to processors, and shrimp processing. Each one of these stages is tainted by some form of severe labor exploitation.
In September 2010, I met a young girl named Nirmala in the remote western Terai region of Nepal. Nirmala is one of the thousands of internally trafficked domestic slaves in Nepal, called kamlari, who belong to the outcast Tharu ethnic group.
Agents recruit Tharu girls as young as eight to work as servants in upper-caste homes. Aside from room and board, the children receive little to no payment for up to 10 years of work. Kamlari girls often suffer extreme abuse and maltreatment.
“I did all the work,” Nirmala explained, “cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, washing dishes. I woke each morning at 5 a.m. and went to sleep at 10 p.m. I slept on the floor…I did this work seven days a week. Sometimes the wife would beat me. The husband in the home would rape me. I did not want to be in that home.”
Sara Morales is in her early 20s, but already, she says, she's been to hell and back. The Colombian woman who lives in Bogota says she was forcibly recruited by the main guerrilla group in her country when she was just a young girl.
"When I was only 11 years-old I was raped by FARC guerrillas and for 11 years I was abused and exploited by them," Morales said.
FARC is a Spanish acronym for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a leftist guerrilla group that has been at war with the Colombian government for about five decades.
Stories about children kidnapped or forcibly recruited by guerrilla groups came back into focus in 2006 when the Colombian government released a video confiscated during an army raid. The video showed squads of young kids being trained as guerrilla warriors in the middle of the jungle.
Editor’s note: Davinder Kumar is an award-winning development journalist and a Chevening Human Rights Scholar. He works for children's rights organization Plan International. On October 11, International Day of the Girl, Plan International launches its global campaign "Because I am a Girl," dedicated to improving girls' education. The girls' names have been changed to protect their identities.
By Davinder Kumar, Special to CNN
Prakasam, Andhra Pradesh, India - As evening falls, the girls get restless. Huddled in a group, some go very quiet, while others become agitated. The large hall of residence fills with an atmosphere of fear and anxiety.
One of the girls breaks down as she recounts her experience at the Hyderabad brothel she was rescued from just a few days ago: For two weeks she says she was kept sedated and offered to clients in a comatose state before she was allowed a meal.
As the horrific details of her ordeal unfold, the room collapses into turmoil. Overcome with emotion, 14-year-old Jyothi is wheezing and struggling to draw her breath because she’s crying so hard;16-year-old Kavya is also inconsolable; Vijayalaxmi is banging her head on the wall, and other girls are shaking, swaying back and forth. All are crying. One account triggers another. Some mutter to themselves while others jostle to be heard.
The scenes at this transit home for girls in the Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh, India, are harrowing. Girls as young as 13 are brought here for temporary refuge after they have been rescued from sex traffickers and brothels in big cities like Hyderabad and Mumbai. Each has suffered varying degrees of abuse, torture, slavery and inhumane treatment.
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