Siddharth Kara on How to End Bonded Labor

Siddharth Kara, Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia

In addition to exploring the system of bonded labor and the lives of those who suffer under it, Siddharth Kara offers ways in which it can be ended. (For a description of the system of bonded, read an excerpt from the introduction.) In Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia, Kara offers ten initiatives to address the forces that promote bonded labor.

These include: legal reform (increase in minimum wages, redesign of land rights, etc.); transnational slavery intervention forces that frees bonded laborers and detains offenders; fast-track courts; elevated scaling and effectiveness of select government antipoverty programs; expanded and free rural education; rural integration and dissemination efforts, including distribution of mobile devices; rapid-response environmental disaster teams focused on alleviating immediate economic and healthcare needs in disaster areas; educational campaigns focused on alleviating social and systemic biases against subordinated castes and ethnic groups.

Kara also describes ways in which individuals can join the fight against bonded labor:

1. Learn about the issue: Read this book and share it with others who are interested in learning more about bonded labor or child labor in South Asia.

2. Financial support: Each of the NGOs discussed in this book is working mightily to tackle various aspects of bonded labor in South Asia. More important, they are reputable and responsible. Any financial or volunteer support you can offer is of tremendous benefit to their efforts.

3. Contact lawmakers: For those of you not living in South Asia, do not forget that you purchase products every day that are potentially touched by bonded and child labor in South Asia. Demand that your lawmakers do more to ensure that corporations do their part to certify that their supply chains are not tainted by these exploitations. For those of you living in South Asia, do all of this and add to it direct campaigns to your lawmakers to ensure that they combat bonded labor more effectively, employing the kind of initiatives described in this book.

4. Contact corporations: any company that sources raw materials or low-end labor in South Asia must be pressured to investigate and certify that their supply chains are free of slave labor of any kind; consumers must also demand that companies whose products they purchase ensure that this kind of investigation and certification becomes a regular aspect of their operating model.

5. Community vigilance: for those in South Asia, organize yourselves into bonded labor community vigilance committees, identify a nearby geographic area where the kinds of industries described in this book are based, and work with NGOs to help identify bonded or child labor and promote the just and full reempowerment of these individuals. Push relentlessly for the effective prosecution of exploiters. Follow the guidance of NGOs on how you can be most helpful, as they have great experience in this area.

6. Tackle supply-side forces: while most demand-side forces are difficult for individuals to address, anyone in the world can form an organization that directly combats one or more of the supply-side forces that promote bonded labor. In aggregate, such efforts can make a tremendous difference and will pressure governments to do their part.

7. Social media: use the power of social media to contribute to the fight against bonded labor. You can use these tools to spread awareness, organize community efforts and protest campaigns, or pressure lawmakers and law enforcement to do more. Make videos or documentaries that educate others on the issue; use GPS tagging on your mobile devices to record areas in which you feel bonded or child laborers might be working, then report back to NGOs or reliable law enforcement. Find other creative ways to fight back against slavery by using all forms of social media and technology tools.

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