Hands on Houses is partnering with Tamilnadu Village Outreach to work with a people called the Irular people. They are locally known as the “Snake Catchers”, and many end up in bonded labour.
Bonded labor is a form of slavery. Employers offer prospective workers an “advance loan” which through a complex system of further (usually tiny) loans, payments, mounting interest and sheer dishonesty they are never able to pay back. In constant debt to their “employer” and often threatened by violence, these people and their families can remain de facto slaves for years. Illiteracy and difficulty in accessing the legal system doesn’t help. Bonded labor is illegal in India, and government as well as NGOs (for example the International Justice Mission) are helping people like Venkatesen & Pachaiammal break out of situations like this. Once free, however, people need opportunities for a sustainable livelihood. Sadly, faced with a lack of opportunities, some Irular return to bonded labor again as the only viable option for survival.