How do people become trapped in Modern Slavery in 2020?
This Christmas, Traidcraft Exchange is appealing for donations to support those trapped in debt bondage – a form of modern slavery experienced by over 8 million people worldwide.
Coronavirus is making a bad situation worse. Many who had escaped debt bondage are now facing impossible choices – and being forced to take on debt to survive this crisis. One such person is Rumali, whose story you can read here:
Rumali has always been determined her future will be different. That’s why she joined Traidcraft Exchange’s project – to learn new skills which would help her leave behind the debt bondage her community lives under. She was well on the way to achieving her dreams, until coronavirus hit.
This time last year, the future looked bright for Rumali. She was earning a decent income as an electrician in Dakar and helping her parents to pay off their debt.
Then coronavirus changed everything. Rumali’s independence was snatched from her, as factories closed and lockdowns began. All over Bangladesh, workers returned to their villages, often spending all their savings just to get home.
For Rumali, going from being the family’s hope of a better future and an inspiration to other girls in her village, to a financial burden, is extremely hard. It’s not just the shame of returning – but the prospect of being forced to marry to ease the hardship the family faces.
“Because of the coronavirus pandemic, my factory was closed and I lost my job and all my hopes again. I became the biggest burden of my parents. Before this pandemic, my parents could eat twice a day. Now they have to share their meals with me. They are also tense about my getting married! Without my work I am feeling ashamed on the shoulders of my old parents.”
The economic situation is worsening, and for many families, taking on more debt is the only way to get through this crisis.
“Yesterday my mother again went to the landlord to take out a loan for the fourth time. For 3 of us this will take a minimum of 2 years for repaying the loan and the extra interest.
Throughout my life I have witnessed my family work as bonded labour. During my whole life my only dream has been to get rid of this curse of cruel debt bondage.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. Rumali’s dream can still come true – she’s already shown it’s possible.
Together, we can ensure that the progress people like Rumali have made towards a brighter future isn’t lost.
Already, amazing people who are donating to Traidcraft Exchange’s appeal is making a real and tangible difference to communities like Rumali’s, helping them get through this crisis and back on their feet.
By bringing people together so they can negotiate their debts, challenge illegal practices like crippling interest rates, and get basic supplies like food and soap to help them through the next few months, Traidcraft Exchange can ensure that families are not forced back into slavery this Christmas.
Kate Dixon is Traidcraft Exchange’s Senior Fundraising Communications Officer. Traidcraft Exchange works to bring people together to fight injustice in trade and business. Through development programmes in South Asia and East Africa, and policy, lobbying and campaigning here in the UK, we help people to escape exploitation and earn a fair wage for the hard work they do every day.