Shivnarayan and his children were enslaved in a stone quarry in India. They came to freedom in July 2005. The survey data suggest that there are more than 18 million people or 1.4 percent of the total population, who are living in conditions of modern slavery in India. Industries implicated in survey data include domestic work, the construction and sex industries, agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, manual labour, and forced begging. Most of India’s slavery problem is internal, and those from the most disadvantaged social strata—lowest caste Dalits, members of tribal communities, religious minorities, and women and girls from excluded groups—are most vulnerable.
I came three years before along with my father to work at a stone mine. Due to the distressed situation of the family, my father decided to go outside the village to earn daily bread for our subsistence. After three years only my father expired. For the cremation of my father I took Rs.1000 and one tin of vanaspati Ghee from the contractor without knowing the consequences of it.
After the death of my father, I brought my five children Shyamkali (14), Nebbulal (12), Bablu (10), Gopi (8) and Ramkali (6) to work with me since there was no one to take care of these children. My wife expired six years back. Now I was in the trap of bondage which I was not able to see with my naked eyes. My children also started working with me deprived of their basic amenities. They use to break heavy stones with the hammer and chisel in their delicate hands. I felt very awful about the dejected condition of my children. All this became part of my family and it was carried on for more than a year. During this period, one of the employees at the stone mine tried to sexually harass my elder daughter. She told each and every thing to me about this case. On hearing all these things, I was very much annoyed and complained about that particular employee to the contractor. But the contractor, instead of taking any action against him started blaming me using bad words and also warned me not to come again with any other complaint otherwise he will not spare me.
I tried to leave the work and return with my family to my native village, but the contractor did not allow me to go and reminded me, until and unless I don’t return the money taken in debt, we will be not allowed to go back. Now I was able to see very clearly that my family was in bondage. My dignity was injured after my daughter’s case and anyhow I wanted to come out from the trap along with my family. In this regard I decided to escape leaving my children at the stone mine. I returned to my village and told every one about the situation but no one was there to help me. During this course of time I came to know from informal sources that Bal Vikas Ashram helps the victim in all these cases. I visited BVA and told each and every thing about the exploitation of my family. Ultimately my family was released due to sincere efforts of BVA and I wish that no other families get into the trap of bondage.
Narrative as told to Free the Slaves.