Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Ten Children Freed in Raid

It took several months to prepare for the raid but only six minutes to complete it. In the end, ten boys gained their freedom.

On July 12 activists working with Bal Vikas Ashram, a Free the Slaves partner, conducted a raid to free children working in a carpet loom in the Biti Village in Allahabad, northern India. These young children had been lured or forcibly taken from their home villages to weave rugs for long, grueling hours each day. Their terms of imprisonment varied; some of the boys had been enslaved for as long as 6 years.

Their captivity was horrific. The boys were never allowed to leave the premises. The loom’s owner, caring little for his slaves’ health or well-being, clothed the children in rags and showed them pornographic movies for “entertainment.” The children were fed meager rations, and occasionally their owner gave them 20 rupees (46¢) for cigarettes. Beatings were commonplace.

According to Supriya Awasthi, Free the Slaves’ South Asia Director, who took part in the raid, one of the children they rescued had been beaten severely just days before. The child had learned that his father had died, and he begged the loom owner to let him return home. The owner demanded that the boy stay to complete an intricate rug the child had already been working on for several months. To ensure the boy’s submission, the loom owner beat the child with an iron rod until his body was completely swollen and sore.

Activists who conduct raids like these put their lives on the line. Supriya reports that Biti Village is notorious for its violence; she says few anti-slavery groups even approach the village because most of the loom owners are brutal criminals.

Government officials, too, fear the area. During the raid, their concern for violence was so great that they insisted their car drive in the middle of the three-vehicle caravan, the safest position.

More alarming than even the violence these activists faced was the lack of secrecy surrounding the raid. One of the drivers who took part in the operation alerted the loom owner because the two are of the same caste. Because of this betrayal, only 10 boys were found in the loom—20 had been spotted earlier. During the raid, it was too dangerous for the activists to spend time searching for the missing children.

Despite the difficulties surrounding the raid, 10 more victims of slavery have been freed! Free the Slaves’ partner in the field is seeing that all the children receive rehabiliation and are helped to rebuild their lives. They have already located the villages of all the children, and six of the rescued boys have already returned home.

Your support is crucial in helping us fight modern day slavery by allowing us to conduct raids like these, create stronger anti-slavery legislation, and develop a movement to combat slavery worldwide.


Blogger said...

To learn more about this raid, or to learn more about what Free the Slaves is doing to end slavery around the world, visit our website at or our blog at



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