Monday, March 21, 2011

Debt Slavery and Dead Coal Miners in Pakistan - A Land With Bonded Labour

Pakistanis never talk about domestic debt slavery. Its actually strange, but there is an entire debt slavery structure in the rural environs of Pakistan. Maybe because of its downright horrific nature, the urban chattering classes simply avoid discussing it. Killing off ( predominantly Hindu) moneylenders was a reason that some people gave me that rural Punjab and Sindh supported the creation of Pakistan.

This debt slavery was transferred from generation to generation and children would be born directly into a slave family. That is the story of Iqbal Masih. Strangely, Pakistan is so anti-labour, that it doesn't even acknowledge this kid as a hero. Or maybe that people have too many tales of tragedy to tell in relation to their labour.

But in relation to the coal miners who recently got killed and a further few trapped inside the mine. Towards the last two minutes of this report, the reporter talks about how some miners mention that they took out debts, and they're working this dangerous job to pay those debts off.

The story of Munnu Bheel (google him sometime) is one that comes to mind. I remember reading about him in 2004, and here we have a documentary of him talking in 2010, of his family still missing.

The movie calls Munnu Bheel, Mannu Bheel, but I'm willing to forgive that error. Funny enough, this is exactly the edition of Herald where I read the follow up story ("Die Bheel, Die") on this case:

And so there we have the primary resource workplace of Pakistan. No wonder people ignored it and didn't talk about it. Its depressing, dangerous, full of slavery and debt bondage that's been going on for generations around the society. The doyens of modernity are too busy focusing on themselves to notice society at large. Or they've withdrawn into their shell because the horrors of society are too overwhelming. Well they just maybe, but possibly for lack of organised attempts to fix them.

No comments: