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Bonded labour cases in Sindh up post-floods
20 March 2023
After floods in August 2022 in Sindh, due to non-implementation of the Sindh Bonded Labour System Abolition Act (SBLSAA) of 2015, bonded labor has increased in Sindh together with poverty, livelihood insecurity and malnutrition said Akram Ali Khaskheli, president Hari Welfare Association, at a press conference at Hyderabad Press Club.
Khaskheli said that in 2023, from January to February, 190 bonded labourers were released through court orders that included 56 children and 63 women. He lamented in 2022, under the SBLSAA, only 14 the District Vigilance Committees (DVCs) were constituted of 29 districts but they were largely ineffective and dysfunctional. Thus, there is no monitoring of the implementation of the SBLSAA. However, during and after floods, there is a dire role of the DVCs because the chances of bonded labor are higher. He added that most of the officials are unaware of the Prevention of Persons in Trafficking Act (PoPA) of 2018 and the SBLSAA.
HWA claimed that Sindh and the federal governments have turned a deaf ear to peasants and rural workers who had lost their crops, wages, cattle and houses during rains and floods. Akram claimed that Sindh has failed to protect peasants and workers during and after the rains and floods, which has caused peasants and workers to become easy prey to greedy and exploitative landlords and seed and fertilizer sellers.
HWA feared that in the absence of government support most peasants and farm workers have started working under informal terms and conditions determined by landlords, in which poor families are getting loans / peshgi/advance to survive through their tough times. Akram said that such sharecropping informal arrangements result in debt bondage, which was already on the rise without being monitored and checked by the DVCs.
HWA said that there are thousands of peasants and rural workers’ families in 17 districts of Sindh without adequate shelter, work, work opportunities, minimum wages, and safe drinking water, health and education services. It added that governments rather than helping to restore their lives by providing them with shelters and livelihood opportunities have turned a mass of flood-affected peasants and rural workers into beggars. Khaskheli also claimed that millions of children and their adult family members require food, safe drinking water and social security support; if not provided with these, thousands of children under 5 years old may die by the end of 2023 due to malnutrition, hunger, water-borne diseases (especially diarrhoea), malaria and cold.
He added that rural workers and peasants constitute more than 70 per cent of the labor force in Sindh’s rural areas, who toil hard in agriculture, farms, and brick kilns but they have never been a priority of the government of Sindh. These millions of workers are without decent work and social security including the minimum wage.


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