AREDS has been networking with fraternal and like-minded Civil Society Organisations and the allied departments of the government for eliminating child marriage, child labour and bonded labour system. Bonded Labour is not just another issue of workers but a crime against humanity. This crime was banned legally by Bonded Labour Abolition Act 1976. The following are the different forms of bonded labour:
- Forcing persons to work by paying money to their emergency needs
- Forcing persons to work without a timeframe
- Paying less that the legal minimum wage
- Prevent the workers even to participate in the funeral ceremony of their family members or close relatives
- Subjecting the workers to torture
- Putting workers in desperation
Besides being exploited of their labour power, bonded labourers are being exploited sexually and subjected to torture in case of trying to escape from the clutches of employers/money lenders. Despite legal ban on this heinous crime, it is being practiced clandestinely by heard-hearted employers by taking the advantage of the desperateness of the workers.
In some cases reported to the government, bonded labourers had been rescued but because of the absence of rehabilitation measures, the labourers had to fall into bonded labour again for their survival. On many occasions, the government officials concerned turn a blind eye to the existence of bonded labour and hence the bonded labour system continues unabatedly.
Tamil Nadu government has declared the 9th of February, the very day on which the Bonded Labour Abolition Act was put into practice, as the Day of Abolishing Bonded Labour through a government order number 448 on 23.09.2020. AREDS joined hands with the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) conducted a procession in Chinnatharapuram village in Karur district on the 9th of February 2022. About 120 women and workers participated in the procession.
The President of Chinnatharapuram Village Panchayat Ms. Selvi Ravikumar presided over the function. The secretary of the District Legal Services Authority Hon. Mohanram flagged off the procession. Advocate Balakumar, paralegal activist Ms. Sangeetha, social activist Mr. Gopal, Police Inspector (Human Trafficking) Ms. Arockiya Jansi, Assistant Commissioner of Labour (social protection) Ms. Krishnaveni, Assistant Commissioner of Labour (industrial safety and health) Ms. Punitha, Ms. Parvathi from District Social Welfare Office and the secretary of AREDS Ms. Gauri had delivered speech before the procession started.
At the end of the procession, all the participants took pledge to serve for the elimination of bonded labour practice and to call the toll-free number 1-800-425 2650 for rescuing bonded labourers.
The staff of AREDS spoke about bonded labour that exists in disguised forms. They also explained various social security schemes and the importance of registering with the Labour Welfare Board for availing the benefits of those schemes. At the end of the meeting, all of them took pledge to serve for the elimination of bonded labour practice.
AREDS also organized a meeting in the Government High School at Varikkapatti in Karur district in order to make the students aware of Bonded Labour and sensitise them to call the toll-free number 18004252650 for rescuing bonded labourers.
The programme coordinators of AREDS Mr. Rajasekar, Mr. Periyasamy, Ms. Manjula,, Ms. Janaki, Mr. Senthilkumar and Mr. Arivarasu delivered speech. Mr. Karthik spoke on the Childline-1098. At the end of the meeting, the faculty members of the school, the students and AREDS staff took pledge to eliminate the practice of bonded labour system.
Pamphlets, which had short description and pictorial explanation about bonded labour, were widely distributed to common people and the students.