Life After Bonded Labor
- Jonit Bookheim
- 22 Mar, 2013
Bonded labor, also known as debt bondage or indentured servitude, was declared illegal and officially outlawed in Nepal in 2000, and then again in 2006, and again in 2009. Why must the the Nepali government keep announcing freedom for bonded laborers? Well, it’s because the problem persists.
Regardless, due to these governmental decrees, there are literally hundreds of thousands of people leaving a life of bonded labor in Nepal, the only way of life they’ve ever known. Bonded labor is often passed down from generation to generation, as families pay off the debts incurred by their fathers and grandfathers.
So if you’re a young woman who has grown up doing agricultural work or herding cattle for your landlord as a bonded laborer, and suddenly you are free to do something different, what do you do? A year ago, our cooperative in Nepal started a program specifically to answer that question.
In a few weeks time, the first group of former bonded laborers will graduate from a year-long course in garment production. These 34 women, from all over Nepal, came to Kathmandu to learn how to weave textiles and sew garments. Room and board is covered as part of the program, and as they head back to their home regions, each one takes a foot peddle sewing machine with her to start her business.
Income generated by the women’s cooperative funds this incredible program, life changing for these 34 women and more to come. We were so thrilled to see that our dresses have an impact not only on the women who make them, but also on women from around the country exiting indentured servitude and starting life anew