A new report from the American Center for Law & Justice confirms that the organization’s religious and civil rights advocates have succeeded in freeing a married couple from their bonded labor that resulted from a faked loan scheme.
The organization reported the situation developed in Pakistan, where such tricks and maneuvers are used against unsuspecting laborers to take advantage of them.
The ACLJ reported that Hanif and Maryam Masih obtained jobs with a “wealthy Muslim farm owner, Mian Faisel,” about 80 or 90 miles north of LaHore.
Both started working in 2016, with Hanif caring for the landowner’s livestock operations and Maryam working as a maid.
The landowner provided them servants quarters but demanded that they pay for a new roof, loaning them about $1,300, or 250,000 Pakistani rupees, for the project.
“Faisal told Hanif that he would pay him 9,000 rupees (about $60) per month, which is about half of the official minimum wage in Pakistan. Maryam was paid 1,500 rupees (about $10) per month. However, Faisal paid Hanif only 4,000 rupees per month, deducting wages every month to repay the loan he had given Hanif to put on the new roof,” the ACLJ said.
Then this year Faisal stopped paying Hanif any salary, “except for rations for him and his wife. Whenever Hanif asked for payment, Faisal would beat him and did not allow the Christian couple to leave the premises,” the organization reported.
The couple just weeks ago escaped and traveled to another city to find work, but Faisal located them and arrived with “five armed men” to take Hanif back to the farm as a captive.
His family then contacted the ACLJ’s affiliate in the country, and lawyers obtained a court order freeing Hanif.
“The judge said that Faisal could pursue his case about the loan in a civil court, but he could not hold Hanif or make him work against his will,” reported the ACLJ, which confirmed it would fight any unfair complaint that would be brought.
He organization noted bonded labor isn’t legal even in Pakistan, but many poor still are victimized.
“Our lawyers on the ground in Pakistan have helped free numerous families from this form of involuntary servitude. Pakistan has also outlawed the giving of loans that bind the employees because employers—mostly owners of brick kilns and cattle farms—often use such loans to obtain cheap labor and to ensure continuous bonded labor,” the report said.
Those “employers” often are caught deducting payments but never allowing the loans to be marked as paid.
At this point, the group reported, “If anything, it is Faisal who owes the Christian couple money.”
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