Not many girls who were rescued from the clutches of bonded labour at the agro export firm in Namakkal on Monday are happy: they had to leave for their home State without getting the fat pay they were promised to be given at the end of the employment term.

“Bonded labour is wrapped in the attractive title Sumangali [marriage] Scheme. It is prevalent in Erode, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Namakkal and Salem in Western Tamil Nadu”, says M. Thangavel, director of Vizhuthugal, a non-Governmental organisation (NGO), working towards abolition of bonded labour.

The scheme was popular in this region for about 15 years, in which girls from the Irula community in Tamil Nadu were recruited in the early stages. Later, they started roping in girls from other States under the scheme with the help of middlemen.

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