Bonded Labour in Pakistan

ISBN 9780199403899
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Bonded Labour in Pakistan is the first academic study of its kind, addressing common misconceptions of what bonded labour actually is, and, crucially, offering an agenda for future research and action on the issue. Comprising of a collection of essays, it provides political, legal, and gendered dimensions to the discussion of bonded labour across different agricultural and industrial sectors in the country. Fresh ethnographic studies have been included that offer a harrowing view of individuals and families trapped in a vicious cycle of bondage along with some seminal published essays on the topic. The book takes an incisive look at the exploitative practices prevalent in the mining, brick making, fishing, agriculture, begging, and domestic workers’ industries. It compares the practice of peshgi (advance payments) in industries which are comparatively less abusive, such as the football-stitching and bangle-making industries in Sialkot and Hyderabad, and analyses the differences that allow these two industries to escape the label of ‘modern-day slavery’. It dissects the elements that turn common practices of recruitment, wages, and ‘benefits’ into tools of manipulation and control. Besides the social constructs of feudalism and poverty that help perpetuate the practice of bonded labour, this collection includes an essay from a legal scholar that deconstructs the weaknesses in the existing laws regarding bondage and the system whereby that law is meant to be implemented. It also looks explicitly at the fate of women, particularly in the brick making and agriculture sectors, and the violence that seems to accompany women under bondage.