“Children should have a pen in their hands, not tools,”

–Iqbal Masih (1983-1995)

 

A debt worth Rs 600 owed by his father was all it took to chain 4-year-old Iqbal Masih to the carpet looms of Punjab. Born in 1893 to a poor Christian family in Muridke, Iqbal Masih inherited the slavery of his family. However, the price he paid for his debt was much higher than it was worth: Masih would wake up every day before dawn and walk to the carpet factory where he, along with several other children, would be chained to the loom so they would not escape. At the age of 10, when he learned that the Supreme Court had declared bonded slavery illegal, he managed to escape. Iqbal Masih later went around the world raising awareness and making speeches about bonded labour and managed to free over 3000 children from slavery. He died in 1995 at the age of 12 when he was shot by the carpet mafia in Muridke.

Organisations such as ‘Free the Children’ were created through being inspired from Iqbal Masih’s legacy. Masih’s legacy would continue to inspire thousands around the world who are fighting various forms of slavery and give tremendous courage to millions trying to fight for their rights against a system much powerful than themselves.