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Although there are reports of ships for Asian coolies carrying women and children, the great majority of them were men.

Regulations were put in place as early as 1837 by the British authorities in India to safeguard these principles of voluntary, contractual work and safe and sanitary transportation, although in practice this rarely occurred (especially during examples such as the Pacific Passage or the Guano Pits of Peru).

Social and political pressure led to the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire in 1807, with other European nations following suit.

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In 2000, the parliament of South Africa enacted the Promotion of Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, which has among its primary objectives the prevention of hate speech terms such as coolie (koelie).

Another explanation is that the Hindustani word qulī originated from the Gujarati aboriginal tribe or caste known as Kuli, and the word was picked up by the Portuguese who then used it in South India, hence the Tamil word kuli.

Much like slave plantations, there were preconceived notions of how different ethnicities worked. Just as many believed that Africans had an affinity for hard outdoor labor, Distant believed that Indian, Chinese, and Japanese Coolies were different in their ability to perform certain jobs. Those who ran estates believed that Chinese and Japanese Coolies were harder working, united, and clean.

Indian Coolies, on the other hand, were viewed as dirty and were treated as children who required constant supervision.

However, over a dollar would be taken from them every month in order to pay off their debts.

British companies were the first to experiment with this potential new form of cheap labour in 1807, when they imported 200 Chinese men to work in Trinidad.Despite these closures, the trade simply shifted to the more accommodating port within the Portuguese enclave of Macau.Many coolies were first deceived or kidnapped and, then kept in barracoons (detention centres) or loading vessels in the ports of departure, as were African slaves.One of the first people to begin importing Coolies from the East was Sir John Gladstone.Much like slave plantations, one Caribbean estate could have over six hundred coolies, with Indians making up over half. Distant recalled his time on an estate observing the work ethic and behaviors of Coolies.Australia began importing workers in 1848, and the United States began using them in 1865 on the First Transcontinental Railroad construction.

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