Slavery in Punjab

While most focus on Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the Middle East for its importance in today’s media landscape, slowly their incisive programs and documentaries have gained an audience amongst those serious about global issues throughout the world. I am a huge fan of their English service and can spend hours on end viewing some of their programming.

One of their recent series Slavery: A 21st Century Evillooks at this horrific practice. While our history books supposedly celebrate the end of the Atlantic Slave trade in the 19th century as the culmination in this most inhumane of all practices, this series belies such a facile narrative. They have documented sex slaves in Moldova, food chain slaves in the US, child slaves in Haiti, and charcoal slaves in Brazil. This week they turn towards bonded slavery in West Punjab.

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The ubiquitous kilns of the Punjabi countryside are not only found on the west side of the border, but very much on the east side as well. I have extended family members that own such businesses, but have not considered what may be the labour situation governing there. The topics in the film even overlap with my own experiences in the diaspora. One too many uncles that I have known personally have traveled to Lahore, replete with their made-in-Amrika dollars, in order to purchase a replacement kidney for their years of alcohol abuse. I hope our Langa(r)eaders find time over the weekend to watch this touching episode and am interested to hear their own stories and thoughts on the issue.

To view the entire program – click here!


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3 Responses to “Slavery in Punjab”

  1. brooklynwala says:

    thanks for the heads up about this jodha. will definitely check out the episode. i was immediately reminded of the case of an indian couple in long island being convicted a few years back for enslaving their domestic workers. horrifying…. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/03/nyregion/03slav

  2. Jodha says:

    @brooklyn – I think this is closer to the appalling conditions you describe – this one that properly may have led to the loss of the incumbent politician – http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/3205678

    Still the issue described in AJE is a bit different in terms of the intensity and structural collusion that allows such forms of slavery to continue.