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Pakistan: Christians And Debt Bondage

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Christians make up a tiny minority in the nation of Pakistan, where the state religion is Islam. In many places, Pakistani Christians are persecuted and enslaved. Nowhere is this more evident in the kilns and brick-making industry.

According to Christians In Pakistan, entire families are ensnared in “debt bondage” in the kilns, with children as young as five working.

The normal routine of a ‘pathera’ or family working at a brick kiln is rolling balls of clay, placing them in moulds, or dealing with backed bricks under the harsh sun and in a environment marred with thick black smoke from the chimney.

Christian families who are indebted to landlords or due to other issues end up serving at brick kilns for the rest of their lives. There seems to be absolutely no escape. Poverty is what dooms them to typically live and work at brick kilns. Bonded labor has been the dilemma of millions in Pakistan. Due to unavailability of resources to pay off debts many only dream of how a free life would be.

Escape is nearly impossible, and rape is common among the women and girls. One man’s entrance into slavery began with borrowing RS 35000 [about $550 U.S.] from a factory owner.

Despite working from dawn to dusk, his debt never shrunk but kept on increasing due to falsified bookkeeping. He got married and had a baby girl while he kept on working at the kiln. Eventually he had to borrow more to cover expenses.

In less than one minute, there are more people being bought and sold into slavery right now than in the entire 300 year-long Atlantic slave trade. Human trafficking affects every corner of the world, every demographic. It is profitable, and until it ceases to be profitable, it will not stop.

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Elise Hilton Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.

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