“Neither my husband nor I was allowed by our employers to visit our children. Often, when family members visited us, they were moved by our plight and offered to share our workload,” said A. Sumathi, a native from Pudukottai who worked for 15 years in sugarcane fields as a bonded labourer.

Sumathi’s story reflects the predicament of scores of workers across the State suffering under the yoke of bonded labour.

Addressing a press meet on Friday, T. Kural Amuthan, Assistant Director of Government and Community Relations, International Justice Mission (IJM) said, “While a state-level action plan has to be implemented, vigilance committees should be set up in all districts to keep a check on the practice of bonded labour”.

IJM launched a statewide campaign, with street plays performed across 32 districts by the Dolkattai Irular Cultural Troupe. “Through skits, dance and music, we aim to spread awareness to people in the most vulnerable communities,” said R. Rani, who heads the troupe.

“We had people telling us they had family members who were enslaved. We put them in touch with NGOs in the area,” she said.