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Forced labour in Pakistan, primarily in the form of debt bondage, is found most commonly amongst agriculture workers.
In 1950, the Sindh Assembly passed the Sindh Tenancy Act.
The dominant economic characteristic of the agricultural labour force in Sindh and Balochistan is extreme poverty and low social indicators of development.
Poverty is pervasive and deep, especially in rural areas.
This gross form of human exploitation is also linked to the lingering challenges of widespread poverty and growing income inequalities, and lack of adequate employment opportunities.
Before assessing what has been done over the past decade or so to contend with this problem, and what else may be done at present, let us take a closer look at the complex realities surrounding this issue.
It should thus not be surprising that of the over 1.7 million people estimated to be engaged in bonded labour in Pakistan by the ILO, the majority of them are landless tillers (‘haris’) in Sindh.
In Sindh, the problem of bonded labour is increasing.
Inevitable expenditures on social occasions such as marriage, death and feasts also lead poor people to accumulate debts taken from landlords where these landless farmers work.
Often, these loans are given with high rates of interest, which keeps compounding over time.
This article will begin by highlighting the problem of bonded labour in rural areas of the country.
Thereafter, the effectiveness of various local and international agencies in abolishing this practise will be discussed.
The existence of national laws such as the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992 also did little to change the situation on ground.