IJM initiative in villages
The International Justice Mission (IJM), Chennai, a global human rights organisation, conducted ‘Urimaiyai Nokki Oru Payanam', a grassroots campaign against bonded labour in Senthilnagar, Vedal and Viswanathapuram villages in Vellore district for three days in the first week of November.
The campaign was in the form of a street play, which captured the story of two bonded labourers who hear from their ancestors in a dream. The ancestors convey their discontent with the living and working conditions of the labourers. They reveal that bonded labour is illegal and encourage the labourers to come out and live in freedom. Waking up from sleep, the labourers mobilise the other workers in the mill and prompt them to question their current working conditions. Seeking to understand their rights, they begin a journey which takes them to meet an advocate who explains their rights as per the law. He also introduces them to a local non-governmental organisation that they can contact for support.
The play presented two important messages to the audience. It urged them to take a united stand against bonded labour as a community and take a pledge to end the bonded labour system. It also explained how to utilise the support of NGOs to tackle the problem.
The IJM has planned to conduct the campaign in 50 villages in the six districts of Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Villupuram, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Chennai. IJM secures justice for victims of bonded labour and other forms of violent oppression, according to a release from IJM. Its lawyers and social workers partner with the district administration in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to ensure victim release and rehabilitation, to prosecute the perpetrators and to develop a thriving public justice system that delivers justice to all victims of violent oppression. Since 2001, IJM Chennai has assisted state and local government officials in the release and rehabilitation of over 3700 victims trapped in the bonded labour system, according to the IJM release.