06 January 2011

Bonded Labour, Forced Labor - Caste based slavery

The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery referred to these links in a 2009 report to the Human Rights Council stating that “ILO research shows a clear link in Asian countries between forced labour and long-standing patterns of discrimination. In India, the overwhelming majority of bonded labour victims in agriculture, brick making, mining and other sectors are from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes” (A/HRC/12/21).

The ILO defines forced labour as work or service undertaken involuntarily and under threat or penalty. Bonded labour is usually a result of economic necessity and other external constraints such as poverty, social exclusion and denial of human rights. Bonded labour is reinforced by various customs and coercion and can also be enforced onto other family members, for instance children and marital family members. Often, labourers are not aware of the value of their work and the status of their debt, which is one of the reasons that lead to life-long bondage. Under such circumstances the bondage can be characterized as forced labour.

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