March 9th, 2011
03:46 PM ET

How to help: Reports from India

In India they are known as bonded laborers, bound to those who gave them or their forefathers an advance or a loan. Human rights advocates call them modern-day slaves.  The reports from CNN's Sara Sidner on bonded labor - which can include young children - has spurred hundreds of readers and viewers to ask how they can help.

As one reader commented on the post: "This breaks my heart so much. ... I am not rich, my parents are not but we have never in our entire life experienced slavery. What can I do to help?" Another e-mailed CNN asking how to help: "I would like to help one of the families mentioned in your story from Uttar Pradesh, India. ... how may I best help these families?"

An organization working in India to combat bonded labor is Free the Slaves. Find out more from their site about freeing a village, how it works and how you can get involved.

Topics: How to Help

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Hassan Jibrin

    One important avenue is through media campaign in all languages over the world.

    March 9, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Reply
    • Aleksandar

      Joaquedn: yo ni sabeda en que9 estaba la disuscif3n a esa hora y tambie9n me entere9 de todo por Twitter salvo el voto de Cobos que fui directo a la TV es un punto de salida!

      December 18, 2012 at 2:37 am | Reply
  2. Peter Khatolwa Ochomo

    Make as many available professional volunteers psychosocial caregivers and religious leaders change the approach.

    March 10, 2011 at 1:33 am | Reply
  3. Jounes Amini
    I send you this E-mail before , but maybe someone helps this kids this time! Modern Time Slavery is horrible, but how horrible are those who use refugees as slaves!

    Ladies and Gentlemen

    Me, Younes Amini Sichani. am an iranian in Exile under the protection of the UNHCR.

    When I visited Iran 2008 , after 18 years living in Germany, the iranian government did not let me leave the country anymore. stocked in Iran I started to engage myself in the antigovernment groups like the Green Movement and the Iranian Christian Brotherhood and raised my voice for the human rights and freedom of speech in Iran.

    Early 2010 I was persecuted by the iranian security service Etela'at, so I escaped to Pakistan. There I was caught and sentenced to 2 month prison, because of crossing the border without proper documents.

    Because i did not let the pakistanis deport me back to Iran , i had to stay for 9 month in Karachi central Jail till the UNHCR got e out of there.But this is not the reason wghy i write you.

    As I left the prison I went to Islamabad to ask the UNHCR what is going to happen next, because i did not have a place to sleep that night and no Hotel was ready to take someone with a refugee-card, the UNHCR people got me in a place called the "Eidy Home".In that place, that is actually ment for homeless men and women and people with mental problems ,I met some afghan and iranian UNHCR refugees between 8 and 25 years old. Their story shoked me!Some of them told me that they were 3 some 5 and some even 10 years in this facility. They are not allowed to leave the Eidy Home unless the owner needs them for a job. The Job is not paid and they have nowhere and nobody to get money. They have no chance for education. They are not allowed to have cellphones in the Eidy home. So no contackt to the outside! And the worst thing is that their work is to wash and burrie dead people!!!As i made some Pictures the next day the Eidy Home Guards tried to stop me from that and , told me to give them my camera. I gave them my memory-card, what they did not know was that i had although managed to add somre off the pics on the camera-memo! at the very next day I complained to the UNHCR and the SACH organisation in Islamabad, but they just told mre that they know about that and it is better for this people to have a place, eventhough it is like a prison, than have nothing!I am very sure that this facility is against all the laws of Human rights and the UNHCR, but even when I wrote a complain letter to the UNHCR in switzerland i got no answer from them.

    Please I know about the power of Media. Help this Children and young men and women. I see it as a duty of a christian believer, and a fighter for freedom of speech and the human rights, to report you this.I hope I can count on you!

    I sent this report first to the UNHCR in Switzerland and later to the news channels BBC,FOX NEWS, CNN etc. But it seems like noone cares about the situation of this people, i did not get any respond from them till today!

    Me my self could manage my self to get a place to live and find work hier in Karachi , so I have at least something till I can find my way back to Germany, I thank God for that, but this people have no chance to help theirselves, that is why I wont stop tell their story till somebody raises his voice for them, please join me imn my fight against this unhuman situation, and send this letter to as many people you can, because the world has to know! God bless you all

    March 10, 2011 at 7:34 am | Reply
    • Ourania

      In a number of comments made there is one point that stands out the UN and other international organizations are absent or turn the other way when matters become a little complicated. It is time for these organizations to stand up and take a position against the trafficking and inhumane use of children, teens and young adults. What kind of world are we building for our children???

      March 29, 2011 at 9:37 am | Reply
    • Raima Ali

      I've read your story and it breaks my heart, I visited India and Bangladesh in 2008 and what I saw was disturbing to say the least. Children should be children, they should not have to grow up at the age of five or seven or ten. I will like to join forces with you in helping these children you spoke about. How I can help? you can contact me directly at

      August 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Reply
  4. umesh

    nepalease girls are trafficed in india although some ngo help to rescue 20% still 80% are helpless.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:20 am | Reply
  5. Ana

    I`m sorry but i lost my faith in any organization. So much money that we donate every year to one cause or another and they never seam to reach to the ones that really need it. I think UN should have a very strict control over donacions. For this people 10 euors, dollars, pounds, is enought to buy food and live. Where are all those milions of dollars that UN gives? It brings me to tears to see those small children working from 5 am to 9pm. Those children who should be enjoying beeing chidren, play and laugh, dream ........are working 15 hours a day or more. I hope that we will find a way to REALLY heulp and give them what they dont have now: A FUTURE

    March 10, 2011 at 10:23 am | Reply
    • Ourania

      I agree with Ana. We give and give and yet the results are minimal and far between. The UN should pay more attention, these are human lives we are talking about. They are quicker to make decisions about going to war than looking after these poor souls.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:26 am | Reply

    Bonded labour in India ia a reality ,but one should understand that it is not an easy task to eradicate povery in acountry which is home to 1100 million people . Being a rapidly developing economy wherein the economic growth is next to China , Indian govenment have to handle mulitple problems facing the country . It is glad to note that in the last 20 years , visible changes have taken place in rual and in urban India , but we have a long way to go . Such reports will only make a non Indian to think that everyone in India is poor. We have a vibrant demoracy and an energetic middle class who can be termed as drivers of India's economic success , but precolating the effects of economic growth to the downtrodden will take time and CNN should also air reports on the positive impact of growth

    March 10, 2011 at 11:03 am | Reply
    • Sidney

      I think we find problems in all countries when we talk about social differences. But the problem is when the people becomes animals because the poverty. I think the human being deserves education, social assistance, security and, mainly, to be under a minimum condition of surviving. I wish a millennial people were ashamed of that.

      March 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Reply
    • Ourania

      Mathew thank you for the economic update for India. Somewhere you have missed the point. We are talking about HUMAN TRAFFICKING. We are talking about young girls mainly, because they are a burden to their families. You don't sell off your children to slavery. Don't lay the blame on consumers etc. etc. The Indian goverment has done little to overcome this problem, to better educate the population and to change their way of thinking. The various international organizations have done just as little. A child is not a piece of land that you can sell off for economical gain. If the families are poor and cannot bring up their children then they shouldn't give birth to them. There is no excuse!!!

      March 29, 2011 at 9:35 am | Reply
  7. umang

    how can i help to prevent those innocent people throuth u let,s all give little effort,to give them a better life

    March 10, 2011 at 11:29 am | Reply
  8. Shehu bello

    Hmmmm,God (Allah) is with us,we shall one day soon bring this inhuman act to an end and the guilty to the book,i shall help in tellin their stories too and help in raisin alarm to tne govt officials...God help us all.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:35 am | Reply
  9. Raj

    The Indian govt is corrupt at almost every level and the Indian pubic are mostly indifferent to the plight of the poor. Very few NGO's are dedicated. Most of them are just a front to get donations (although I must admit that more and more young people are getting involved to solve these issues these days).

    Indian people are encourage to learn the values of non-violence and the concept of karma (that the current situation is a result of actions from the past life). Hence most of them don't try to fight oppression instead accept their fate.

    Unless the people raise against their oppressors and fight for their rights no amount of donations are going to make any difference. You free one slave and the owner will find another. Any kind of mass movement should come from inside the country. I think CNN is doing the right job in bringing this problem into the light. Now it is up to the people of India to decide if they want to step-up to the plate to take action.

    March 10, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  10. Justice

    My heart is broken! we all want to help ... but we do not know if our money will reach its intended destination. And the money is spent with (good or bad) administration. Oh! It's terrible!

    March 10, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Reply
    • Justina

      Administrators need salaries, too! Every agency has finincial report each year or month how the donated money is spent. And they usually belong to some accountability system. I support Christian missions because people need Gospel and Christian education in order to solve spiritual problems and to understand the God-given human dignity and freedom.

      March 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Reply
  11. Fern

    CNN Reporters should better also look into the micro-credit and loan systems applied by banks. Grameen's Bank in Bangladesh ... billions of assets made on the back of the poor.... BRAC (over 40,000 employees) multi-national disguised under the name of an NGO......Multi-billionaires scavanging on the poor and getting on top of that Nobel Prices... Shame on the world!

    March 10, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Reply
  12. Gautam Narang

    Indian bureaucrats are men and men never believe in agreeing to anything wrong.It decresas their manliness. India is a very rich country with poor people. Slavery as reported by CNN is truly a national disgrace.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Reply
  13. Raj

    I don't know if CNN's Sarah Sidner bothered to call on the local MP of the particular district in India or inform the local authorities in India about a crime in progress. Obviously, she was more interested in breaking the story and padding her resume with this "special". Bonded labor is illegal and has been illegal in India since nearly 40 years. Only the most ignorant, poor and remotest of places still secretly practice this. It's like segregation in the US that is practiced even today in some small town in rural South USA. These "slaves" don't know that they are free and they can go anywhere and don't need to do this nonsense. It is this ignorance that is exploited.

    March 11, 2011 at 1:16 am | Reply
    • mohan

      Truth hurt. Plz stop comparing isolated racial incident in the US and bonded child labor in India. Are you a politician. Instead of finding a solution you trun around and blaming the CNN reporter. Wise up.

      March 11, 2011 at 8:44 am | Reply
    • Mehul sound just like our indian politician....always find a problem in others solution...You may be connected to our politics picture....So these salve they do no understand word "freedom" and "human rights". I am sure you have seen children working in your house or neighbor house for doing dishes, moping floors and etc...Is this not a Child Labour or what? I am sure you have good reason to argue...just like politician. Accept the facts and try to solve them if you can otherwise just shut-off and let someone do the right thing.

      March 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Reply
    • Shane

      I sort of understand and acknowledge your point, that peoples ignorance is being exploited, and yes this is a global issue and it found in most poorest societies. You have a valid point however.

      Sarah Sidner acted sagely for imbuing a much needed awareness which thankfully perpetuates action and support.

      These very stories enlighten those who are 'also' faced with such suppression is currently gaining unprecedented global support. The world has never seen such conscious intent wherefore she has earned accolades for initiating advancement. We are each other's Saviour and it begins with intent. The goal (for those aware) is to illuminate our degenerated societies for no-one should be a servant or slave to another.

      March 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  14. umang

    what leads the people in trafficing?poverty,domestic violence,mistreatment by step parents,lack of proper care and guidance,due to social impacts,forced child labor,civil war,torture e.t.c and unless we the people are not aware of it will be on so let,s all give a little effort .

    March 11, 2011 at 3:09 am | Reply
    • Shane

      True, effort and awareness is imperative 🙂

      I can't understand what gives any leader (if they can be termed as leaders) the right bind to families who's forefathers were given in advance. This is beyond abject – its evil. These nefarious regimes should be brought to justice.

      March 11, 2011 at 4:13 am | Reply
    • Kaylyn

      I was so confused about what to buy, but this makes it undersdatnable.

      December 27, 2011 at 4:33 am | Reply
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  15. KP

    The Govt of India, like every other 3rd world country severely restricts access to guns. The poor therefore have no means to defend themselves and their families. We dont have to start initiating a multi-billion dollar aid package. Simply allow them to buy guns freely and they can eaisly take care of themselves and their families from these predators. Thank God for the NRA.

    March 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Reply
    • Shane

      It never made sense to use tools of death in hope to bring about peace or freedom. Seemingly they have no defense however this campaign, for support, is their best defense. A global statement would undoubtedly render positive change.

      March 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Reply
  16. Justina

    The people in India need more Christian education in order to root out the slavery; it's the destructive ideology on human being that is foundationally wrong in any and every pagan world.

    March 12, 2011 at 1:48 am | Reply
  17. Philippe

    If, at first look, your "Freedom Project" seems a fair and necessary fight, I think that it is not necessary to send correspondents around the world to denounce modern slavery. It would be better to analyze what is its major source.
    Today’s slavery today find a major part of its source in the United States, for instance on Wall Street, and could be explained partly by the lack of morality of those investors whose only occupation is to produce more money from money and secondly the lack of rules of liberal and limitless capitalism.
    Since its creation, the United-States are capable of the best and the worst. The best is the quest to liberate people from their yoke of dictatorship, their occupants, to bring them to democracy, the worst is the acceptance of a capitalism without rules, for those brought to its firmament for which money is the sole raw material and whose only aim is to produce more money from money, by forcing boards of directors to increase their annual sales and profits and to achieve this there are only two solutions, sell more or produce cheaper. And it's always this need to produce cheaper, which is the largest source of modern slavery.
    Hidden behind this other invention that is the "marketing" and that reverses the values of a product put on sale. Before this sacrosanct spread of "marketing" it was necessary to produce a product and the one who was producing the best quality at the best price was the one who sold the most. Advertising was a way to showcase the product and selling its merits.
    Now this is not the case anymore, the one who has the best department of "marketing» achieves the best! You produce poor quality goods to the lowest prices, manufactured by the today’s slaves, and you make them wear by all these "people" and "VIP" that you pay a fortune to do so, fortune representing the biggest part of the costs, and to complete you launch your campaign of “advertising”, which today is no longer to understand the characteristics of a product but only to know who is wearing it or using it!
    The solution? Simple! Do as for the cigarettes, announcing their danger on their packages, you mention on the boxes of the concerned products in a legibly way and in their advertisements the following: where they are manufactured, by whom, at what hourly rate, and what social rights they workers enjoy. Tax the profits and losses of investors and lower the taxes on corporate profits that adopt a charter of non-exploitation of human misery and recognize human rights and social minimum to all workers wherever they are.
    I can assure you the United States are not responsible for everything. The second source of modern slavery can be explained by the policy pursued by the leaders in each of the countries where it occurs.
    Military dictatorships, political dictatorships, religious dictatorships, or countries where the leaders confiscate the power once they get it or attempt to transmit to their children, a system inherited by a tradition of castes, in short all countries where human rights and minimum social rights are not respected.
    That's precisely in those countries that those companies produce their products at lower costs!
    In light of current events taking place in some Arab countries it would maybe make sense to stop producing in those countries. Their population would be forced one day or another to riot to achieve democracy.
    Capitalist democracies are today because of their for lack of ethics, lack of morals, lack of controls, poultry houses where the hens have the same rights as the wolf

    March 13, 2011 at 6:41 am | Reply
  18. umang

    well,now the libiyan people are fighting for rights,freedom,trying to free themselves from the slavery od gaddafi then why the another country are helping them.

    March 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Reply
  19. Scott

    there are many ways to help end the practice of modern day slavery. people are enslaved so consumers can purchase cheap products and producers can increase their profits. consumers should demand that companies open their entire supply chain to credible third party organizations that certify the goods are produce in an ethical manner.

    March 15, 2011 at 11:11 am | Reply
    • Justis

      If inforiamton were soccer, this would be a goooooal!

      September 15, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Reply
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    March 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  21. Latimer K. Marak

    I watch AC360 almost everyday and just few weeks ago when you've just begun freedom project you showed a five year old girl from india helping her family in the brick making, that's too devastating for me to watch that i had to switch over to another channel and couldn't watch it when shown fully in the dedicated prgramme. Even at times thoughts about that little girl come to my mind and bring tears to my eyes. I just can't imagine what kind of evil-minded men force such small children to work in such hard conditions. And i keep on wondering in my mind 'does that girl even know who she is or what she is?' Or 'does she have longings to run around and play with other children or does she even know she is still at her age to play around? Or does she even know about her own existence'
    Sometimes i wish i could just enter her mind and see for myself how she thinks while sleeping, eating or working. Could you please tell me what happened to her and her family after you showed them on tv? I wish i could help her but I'm still unemployed and so i'm not sure i would be able to help her in any way. And i now feel like a pretender spending my time sitting wholeday finding excuses for my rheumatoid arthritis conditions.

    June 10, 2011 at 3:32 am | Reply
    • Efin

      Con este comentario me reorcde9 de Francisco Otta Un gran personaje total en la historia de nuestro paeds y la opinif3n que nos entrego una ves de la Haas es + frase tan cliche9 en nuestros dedas pero que mantiene un gran sentido funcional.Con respecto a la cnn esta claro que la gente lee cada ves mas en forma diagonal

      December 17, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  22. David Troster

    In my travels as a food safety auditor I often see things that should never be, including child/bonded labour. While we can talk a lot part of the solution is actually in our own hands. Remove the economic benifit of bad practice, simply do not buy products that use child or similar labour. Policing such a system is hard and like all human activity someone will cry cost. So think when you buy that cheap T-shirt or that carpet with more knots per inch than you can count or any other product. Demand of the seller that the product is traceable and demonstrably ethical in its production. Go on the cost will small to you but could mean freedom for some.

    June 19, 2011 at 2:55 am | Reply
  23. dr abdul nasir

    its the poverty of the poor countries that leads to such a social shocks there are corrupt people involved in this

    August 7, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  24. 007A

    The human trafficking trade along the North East Indian border
    The border along North East India is largely open and unmanned, so a human trafficking trade exists there without much enforcement against it. Young women are taken across the border to work in brothels for forced sex labor. While boys can be taken to work in coal mines for slave labor. Sex labor victims can be sold for as much as 600 US dollars.

    Hasina Kharbhih works for Impulse NGO Network and has done some study into the human trafficking along the border. An summary of an interview with Kharbhih was printed in The Mouring Express. In our snippet, we read an explanation from Kharbhih on why the border is a popular place for taking children.

    On the reason the North East remains a hot-spot for human trafficking, Hasina points out that the region shared many international borders, most of which are open and unmanned and these points provided an easy passage in and out of India for organized human trafficking syndicates to operate undetected. She also informed that Nepalese girls have long been in demand, owing to their fair complexion and oriental features. However, greater awareness and networking among Nepalese communities has forced traffickers to turn to alternative sources. Hasina disclosed that the solution has been to target north-eastern girls as there are close physical similarities and the greater socio-political climates are conducive.

    Hasina also pointed out that the situation for each of the eight north-eastern states varies. For example, she states that Meghalaya is a major destination due to its coal industry. Estimates suggest that 40,000 children from Nepal and Bangladesh have been trafficked into the coal mines by landowners and exporters for the purpose of slave labor. Furthermore, the highway networks in the north east connect many national and international destinations. In the state of Assam, truckers have used the highway routes to transport drugs and traffic girls. “We have seen truck drivers from all over India deceiving young north eastern children into fake marriages, child labor and sex work”, Hasina says. Another contributing factor is the female sex ratio-decline in northern India.

    Resulting from the cultural male child preference, this imbalance has sadly led to many girls being trafficked for marriage.
    On the main source, transit and destination points for these victims, Hasina states that from her experience the destinations are usually New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Kolkata and extend as far as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. “There are likely to be many more locations throughout India and across the globe, we just haven’t learned of them yet”, she maintains. According to her, Siliguri is the main transit point as it connects many train lines and bus services. It has long been a convenient way to smuggle women and children across the Indo-Nepali border without detection, Hasina discloses in her interview.

    While it was generally accepted that people below the poverty line with limited employment opportunities are the most vulnerable to being targeted by human traffickers, Hasina gave an interesting insight into the recent trend whereby young, educated girls seeking employment outside their local area have also been caught up in trafficking. These girls are generally duped / coerced into the commercial sex trade by ill-intentioned employers, she points out. Women and children are also commonly deceived by offers of fake marriages. There have been cases where non-Indian residents (NRIs) have married women as a cheaper alternative to paying domestic staff. Highly educated girls have been exploited and abused in these marriages.

    September 7, 2011 at 11:04 am | Reply
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