10th March, 2016

Indian police and staff from the International Justice Mission have rescued more than 560 children, women and men in an anti-slavery operation at a brick kiln not far from the city of Chennai.

In what was the IJM's largest ever operation, 564 children were freed in the raid and six people, including the kiln owner, arrested.

Families had lived in tiny tin roofed sheds or tents with a weekly allowance of less than $US6 a week. The IJM said many went for days at a time without eating. Woken at 3am every day, the IJM said the labourers suffered verbal and physical abuse and were watched at all times. Injuries or illness were treated dismissively.

Almost 200 children lived inside the facility with almost half under five-years-old and while some were allowed to attend school, most of those aged over 12 worked alongside their parents.

The latest raid in early March follows an earlier raid at the same property in 2011 in which more than 500 people were rescued.

The US-headquartered International Justice Mission is a global Christian-based organisation of lawyers, investigators, social workers, community activists and other professionals who partner with local authorities to free people from slavery, sex trafficking and a range of other human rights abuses throughout the developing world.

~ www.ijm.org

- DAVID ADAMS