Veeru Kohli: A bonded labourer who took on the Bhuttos

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The car made its way down the narrow, winding, mostly unpaved road towards Azad Nagar – a settlement on the outskirts of the southern Pakistani city of Hyderabad that is inhabited by freed bonded labourers.

Inside was Veeru Kohli, a former bonded agricultural labourer who is now an activist working for the eradication of this form of slavery.

Almost 45.8 million people are trapped in bonded labour across the world and Pakistan is home to more than two million of them, according to the Global Slavery Index.

Kohli is a familiar face in Azad Nagar, which means land of the free. More than 100 families currently live here in thatched roof houses that lack electricity and running water. A small temple serves as a place of worship for the mostly Hindu residents.

Kohli does not know her age but appears to be around 50 years old. She is wearing a bright pink ghagra and choli – skirt and blouse – with a black shawl draped over her shoulders and a vermilion on her forehead, a practice followed by Hindu women.

She vividly recalls how the contractor at the farm in Umerkot, around 150km from here, where she worked as a bonded labour would beat up her children.

“Life was hell back then,” she says. “We worked for a feudal lord and never got to see any sort of payment for all our efforts.”

source: Aljazeera

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