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Published on Dec 14, 2016
Haliya, meaning ‘one who ploughs’ in Nepalese, are bonded labourers. They work on a landlord’s land for free, giving half of the crop to the landlord and surviving on the other half. Although the system was outlawed in 2008, it persists de facto. Often without land or a house, generally in debt, and additionally the victims of caste discrimination, the lives of many Haliya are grim.
Indu and Prakash are two 'children of Haliya'. Indu, 20, is bright, articulate and ambitious. However, her social status as Haliya, 'Untouchable', and woman, and her poverty, prevent her from escaping her life of agricultural drudgery to follow her dream of becoming a tailor. Prakash, 15, is a social outcast due to being renounced by his estranged father for being 'illegitimate'. He longs to travel to India, to escape persecution and to make money to support his frail mother.
Mesmerising, moving and often hypnotic, Children of Haliya weaves together an insightful exploration of bonded labour with the rich personal narratives of two fascinating characters.