19-YO Odia Girl Saves Herself & 6750 Others From Labour Trafficking

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Yesterday, July 30, was observed as ‘World Day Against Trafficking in Persons’ to raise awareness about this crime and thank the first responders who work day in and day out to save the victims. The National Commission for Women (NCW) also shared the story of a 19-year-old girl from Balangir, Odisha, who defeated trafficking through her bravery and actions.

According to The Times of India, her family and 355 other labourers were forced to work in brick kilns of Tiruvallur, Tamil Nadu, to pay off debts and cash advances. They were made to work 14 hours a day, paid a paltry sum of Rs.25-30, and beaten mercilessly during the lockdown instead of letting them return home.

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She was quoted saying, “My family including my father and younger sister had taken an advance of Rs 28,000 in order to pay off their debts incurred for medical expenses of my mother, who died. All of us toiled day and night to complete the bricks so that we could leave for home. Our relatives were pressurizing us to return and we were scared of the disease as well.”

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However, the employers went back on their words that they could go home after completing the work target. They used violence to silence the workers’ protests.

“They lost their cool when they saw some of the workers packing their luggage to return home. The men pulled out lathis and went berserk with their brutal attack. The workers were bleeding profusely. Some were left grievously injured in the incident and needed urgent medical attention. They broke the rib bone of one of the workers while many received a head injury.”

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Orissa Post reports that she took matters into her own hands by reaching out to her relatives and sending them pictures of their living and working conditions. They, in turn, contacted the authorities who rescued a total of 6750 migrant workers and arranged 150 buses for them to travel home.

She added, “I called up almost all the numbers on my mobile and shared the photos, audios, and videos of the injured men to all WhatsApp contacts appealing for urgent help. I knew that the owner will not take us to the hospital and some might die of profuse bleeding.”

Thanks to her actions, injured labourers got medical attention and many were freed from bondage. Kudos to her incredible strength in the time of adversity.

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