“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

Today, slavery is illegal almost everywhere, yet it continues to flourish. Bonded labor, a form of slavery, often occurs when people are tricked into taking loans from creditors who have no intention of letting them repay the loan. The creditor then uses violent intimidation to keep his workers slaving with no hope of escape.

According to Anti-Slavery International, “A person becomes a bonded laborer when his or her labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan. The person is then tricked or trapped into working for very little or no pay, often for seven days a week. The value of their work is invariably greater than the original sum of money borrowed. Millions of people are held in bonded labour around the world.

Bonded labor has existed for thousands of years. In South Asia it took root in the caste system and continues to flourish in feudal agricultural relationships. Bonded labor was also used as a method of colonial labor recruitment for plantations in Africa, the Caribbean and South East Asia.

Bonded laborers are routinely threatened with and subjected to physical and sexual violence. They are kept under various forms of surveillance, in some cases by armed guards. There are very few cases where chains are actually used (although it does occur) but these constraints on the bonded laborers are every bit as real and as restricting.”

Following are valuable online resources where you can learn more about bonded labor and slavery:

International Justice Mission:

Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST):

Dalit Freedom Network:

Not for Sale:

One Voice to End Slavery:

Anti-Slavery International:

Abolish Slavery:

Free The Slaves:


National Geographic: 21st Century Slaves

National Geographic: Untouchables

New York Times, June 3rd, 2007: Brick Kilns in India