Pakistan (MNN) — In Pakistan, over 15,000 brick kilns play a significant part in the economy, producing about 45 million bricks per year. But many of the 3 million workers have been trapped there by debt bondage, a form of forced labor.
“It truly is modern-day slavery in every sense of the word,” says Greg Kelley with World Mission. “We met people that had been born in these brick kilns that have been there 40 years, members of second and even third-generation families. [Their] slavery was initiated by a debt of maybe as little as $100 of a medical bill that they couldn’t pay. The slave owners pay that debt; then they own these people.”
These people have to live in shacks near the kilns. If they do not make their brick quotas, they are assaulted or starved. Sometimes, the owners even kidnap the daughters of the kiln workers, selling them into the sex trade.
Kelley recounts one of the most harrowing stories from his trip. “A woman approached me, and it was clear that she had a child in her hands – an infant, maybe not even a month old. … She said, ‘Please take my daughter. I can’t bear the thought of her living the life that I have.’”
How to pray
Kelley says World Mission paid one day’s wages to some of the kilns so the slaves could take a day off. “It was like a Christmas celebration because they didn’t have to work. … we were able to gather these people together at these different brick kilns we visited and [share] the Gospel. I would say 90% of these slaves were coming to receive Jesus.”
Pray for the eradication of this practice and that many more kiln workers in Pakistan will encounter Jesus, the One who sets slaves free.
The header photo shows workers in a Pakistan brick kiln. (Daniel Buckles, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)