The Girmityas of the Caribbean
Between 1838 and 1916, more than a million Indian men and women undertook long journeys on dangerous waters across the Atlantic and Pacific, to work as virtually bonded labour in the Caribbean sugar plantations of the British. Their traumatic experiences and ultimately their voices, were silenced and forgotten in the by lanes of history. All that remains of those harrowing memories – are encapsulated in the title they are still referred to as – Girmityas, a corruption of the horrid ‘agreements’ they signed, virtually giving away their rights and life.
Poor, beaten and ravaged by circumstances, they had no choice.