We received some exciting news today from India. 2010 Harriet Tubman award winning organization JEEVIKA works in Karnataka, a state in southern India where slavery in the form of bonded labor is prevalent. JEEVIKA’s founder Kiran Prasad works largely with the Dalits—a community historically put at the bottom of society, and disproportionately placed into bonded labor. Slavery is illegal in India, but societal pressures and prejudices allow it to prevail. Prasad and his staff empower the community with knowledge of the law, and support survivors of bonded labor through the long, legal process of emancipation.
Today, Kiran sent news that 102 bonded labors have been officially freed. They have all received release certificates, legally absolving them of obligations to their slave masters.
Earlier this month, Kiran, accompanied by former bonded laborer and current JEEVIKA community activist Shivanna Puttaiah, received a Freedom Award at a star-studded ceremony in Los Angeles. We are moved—and delighted—to see these photographs of Kiran presenting others with the gift of freedom.
In an email sent to FTS staff, Kiran said, “I emphasized the need to continuously identify the bonded labourers and rehabilitate them until the bonded system is wiped out.”
Despite seemingly insurmountable economic and social obstacles, JEEVIKA has helped guide thousands of former slaves toward freedom. To find out more about their work—and to donate to the organization—go here.