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Breaking India’s Cycle of Bonded Labor

15 11 15

NEW DELHI – My childhood arrived late. Born to an impoverished family in a stone quarry in Rajasthan, I knew how to crack rocks before I could spell my name. My parents were bonded laborers, and as soon as I could hold a hammer, I was, too. We were paid little and could barely afford to eat. My earliest memories are of being someone’s slave: my breath was mine, but my body and spirit were not.

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This was the tragedy that my family – and generations of our ancestors – were forced to endure. Miraculously, I eventually escaped. Across India, most bonded laborers never do.

Any type of slavery is debasing, but bonded child labor – forcing a young person to work to pay off a family debt – is among the cruelest forms of abuse. The cycle goes like this: desperate for the money needed to feed their hungry families, people take out loans with exorbitant interest rates. Then, when they become unable to repay, they are........

© Project Syndicate