India

Jeevika Free

 
2009 : Somanna, his wife Maligamma, and their first two children in front of their hut, when Somanna was still a bonded laborer.

2009: Somanna, his wife Maligamma, and their first two children in front of their hut, when Somanna was still a bonded laborer.

2019 : Somanna, Maligamma, their children and grandchildren in front of the house they built when they were freed.

2019: Somanna, Maligamma, their children and grandchildren in front of the house they built when they were freed.

 

Since 1988, Jeevika Free has worked to eradicate bonded labor in Karnataka, India, by freeing, educating, and training slaves who work on rural farms. These slaves are almost always trapped in debt bondage - they once took a loan from a wealthy landowner that can only be repaid through excruciating work. Bonded laborers often work 20+ hours a day for very little to no pay, with no freedom to seek any other employment until the debt is deemed clear. While bonded labor was officially abolished in India in the 1970s, cases persist because people are unaware of the laws, and convictions remain rare.

Jeevika Free continuously advocates at the state and national level for the enforcement of anti-slavery laws. The organization wrote the state plan for the eradication of bonded labor. At the same time, they work in villages to raise awareness of the laws, promote education, as well as teach people how to manage their finances - effectively breaking the cycle of bonded labor. As of early 2019, 10,043 women and 2,135 men across Karnataka were part of savings and credit self-help groups set up with the support of Jeevika Free.

Since its inception, Jeevika Free helped free over 30,000 women and men.