Exploitative personal services
Nature: Personal services are services demanded of underprivileged people by public and religious authorities, landlords, recruiting agents, contractors and creditors, for no payment or nominal payment, or for food or the use of land, as in the feudal system of peonage of the Middle Ages. Personal services may include administrative, domestic, or agricultural work and usually involve the entire family, women and children included. In giving service to religious authorities, people may also be required to contribute cash.
Incidence: Personal services are mainly performed by indigenous populations in Latin America and India. The expropriation of their land results in their dependency on landowners, authorities and other 'invaders' who exploit their lack of adaptation to modern market economy systems and distort their customs of community service. Since services are also required of children, their education ends at a very early age, thus denying them the possibility of escape from the system of servitude. Trade in slaves and serfs has been noted by the ILO in Colombia and Venezuela, where Indians of one tribe sell Indians of another tribe either to whites or to other Indians. Although legislation has been passed in many countries abolishing slavery and the more blatantly exploitative forms of personal service, it has proved almost impossible to get rid of the system of peonage without a radical land reform policy. In India, the prevalence of the caste system keeps peonage in practice despite laws against it.
Problem Type: D: Detailed problems
Date of last update 06.02.1997 – 00:00 CET