Iqbal Masih

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Iqbal Masih

Iqbal Masih , pronunciation (1982 [note 1] – April 16, 1995) was a Pakistani boy enslaved in a carpet factory. He escaped and fought against slavery. He was killed on Easter 1995 becoming a symbol of the fight against child exploitation.

Iqbal_Masih’s Biography

His bondage

Iqbal was given to a carpet manufacturer by his father in exchange for a loan of 600 rupees (9 euros) that he needed to meet the expenses of the wedding of his eldest son (Aslam). Iqbal was forced to work more than twelve hours, during which he was chained to the loom where he worked and beaten several times. He changed owners several times and among them gave him the reputation of being a libertine. Even so, he had a great ability with the loom although he received better treatment than the others given that he had the ability to make carpets highly valued by the wealthy of the place.

Although they were aware that the children who worked in the factory were victims of exploitation with degrading hygienic conditions, these rugs were sold for a large sum of money since there were very few who could manufacture these rugs and they only formed once a year. Over time, the interests of his father’s debt were increased, so in practice, Iqbal remained several years in slavery. The harsh conditions he had to endure affected his growth by measuring the height of a six-year-old child by twelve years of age.

The escape

One Sunday in 1992, when he was ten years old, he managed to escape from the factory and dedicated himself to denouncing the situation of slavery that many other children in his country were living with the support of the Bhatta Mazdoor Mahaz union (Front of brick workers Thanks to them they notified the police and with the help of the union they took their last owner, Hussain Khan, to justice despite the fact that Hussain tried to bribe them. He was condemned and his factory was closed, leaving the Iqbal comrades free and he met the Children’s Liberation Front, and from that moment he was free and dedicated himself, with the support of that union, to denouncing the employers of the looms telling the situation of slavery in which many children of his country lived. In television reports broadcast in India, Pakistan and around the world he gave a message that said: “Do not buy the blood of children! They are made by children! “

Iqbal aroused the anger and anger of the owners of the factories and despite the death threats, always refused the police escort, even refused to move to the capital or to a safer place. He had once said that he wanted to be a lawyer, in order to better defend his cause.


On April 16, 1995, while riding a bicycle on his way home, was shot down from a van creating wounds so severe that ended his life. The perpetrators of the crime disappeared without a trace, although the neighbors claimed that they were mercenaries.

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