Poverty pay on tea estates in Assam fuels a modern slave trade ensnaring thousands of young girls. A Guardian/Observer investigation follows the slave route from an estate owned by a consortium, including the owners of the best-selling Tetley brand, through to the homes of Delhi’s booming middle classes, exposing the reality of the 21st-century slave trade.
The video captures the moment where a father is reunited with the daughter he believed was forever consigned to a life of domestic servitude in Delhi. Unfortunately, Somila’s experience is not uncommon. She is only one of countless girls trafficked as part of the “Tea Maid Trade” from the tea plantations of Assam, India.
The workers in Assam are trapped in a unique situation of terrible poverty making them vulnerable to the lure of human traffickers
You can join the campaing to stop slavery in Assam by visiting the site http://www.walkfree.org/tata-help-prevent-trafficking-girls-working-tea-plantations/ and signing up!
The campaign is a petition to Tata Global Beverages, one of the biggest tea companies in the world, to do something about this. A series of investigations3 have documented trafficking from tea estates owned by Amalgamated Plantations – and Tata is its single biggest shareholder.
Here are some of the main points to be noted!
- Tata Global Beverages (owner of Tetley Tea) is the biggest shareholder of a company called Amalgamated Plantations which manages tea plantations in Assam, India.
- Several years ago, a program was initiated that aimed to make tea plantation workers part owners in Amalgamated Plantations. In exchange for a portion of their already small wages, they would get shares in the company. Sounds good, right? Sadly, scores of workers report they were coerced to buy shares in Amalgamated Plantations and remain confused about the details.4
- Reports indicate that workers are paid 94 rupees ($1.54 USD) a day, a little over half the legal wage for an unskilled worker in Assam. But there is a price for keeping wages so low, and it is paid by the workers who cannot afford to keep their daughters. When the traffickers come knocking, offering to take the girls away, promising good wages and an exciting new life, they find it hard to say no.5
- Because of the poverty in Assam, trafficking girls is an attractive business for locals. Investigative reports indicate that people in Delhi have bought girls for as little as 4,000 Rupees (or $65 USD).6
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