children bonded labor india PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

Breaking India’s Cycle of Bonded Labor

The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor alone generates some $150 billion in illegal revenue every year. Much of that money is tied to India, where eight children go missing every hour, on average.

NEW DELHI – My childhood arrived late. Born to an impoverished family in a stone quarry in Rajasthan, I knew how to crack rocks before I could spell my name. My parents were bonded laborers, and as soon as I could hold a hammer, I was, too. We were paid little and could barely afford to eat. My earliest memories are of being someone’s slave: my breath was mine, but my body and spirit were not.