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Aashish Yadav's blog

Manki's story: escaping bonded labour in India

To: The Health, Rights, Media Network with The Communication Initiative

From Aashish Yadav - BBC Media Action on media and bonded labour in India.

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Manki's story: escaping bonded labour in India

Meet Manki. His weathered face breaks into a smile when he greets you. But behind his grin and friendly demeanour, there’s a darker story to tell.

Manki is from a tiny village in the district of Latehar in Jharkhand state, in eastern India. Forty two years old, he lives with his seven children, wife and mother in a mud house of four rooms.

To find work, he and his fellow villagers often travel large distances to earn money. "If a contractor tells us that we’ll get higher wages in a city far from our village, we go," he says, "This makes us vulnerable and can sometimes lead to bad situations."

This is exactly what happened earlier this year when Manki and ten of his neighbours were convinced by an agent to leave their homes and work on a construction site in Bengaluru in South India - more than 800 miles away.

Modern slavery

They had been promised a place to live, good food to eat and Rs 440 (just over £4 or US$7) for a 12-hour day - a fortune for Manki and his fellow villagers.

But when they arrived in Bengaluru, the 11 men were first placed in one small room in a high-walled compound which was constantly guarded – and only paid Rs 120 (£1.17/US$2) for a day’s work.

“At the end of the month, they also only paid for 10 days of work even though we had worked the entire month,” Manki says.

Health, Rights, Media