Children and women from the villages and tribal belts of the North-Eastern and Eastern states of India are most vulnerable to trafficking for domestic work. In order to prevent trafficking and to rescue victims from its clutches, National Domestic Workers’ Welfare Trust conducts activities at both the source and destination states such as Orissa, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, the north-eastern states of Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur etc. Sr. Jeanne Devos, National Coordinator observes that over 90% of the persons trafficked for domestic work is from the state of Orissa to state of Goa.
Media awareness programs, campaigns and consultations are conducted in order to bring an attitudinal change in source and destination areas about trafficking and forced migration and bring about a responsive action of stakeholders for prevention. The movement facilitates the training and formation of Self Help Groups in target areas and the formation of village level committees to prevent trafficking. Further, agents and roots of trafficking in the source areas are identified. Also networking with NGOs, GOs, policy-makers, churches and police in source areas is undertaken so as to facilitate rescue, rehabilitation and repatriation. NDWWT makes all possible efforts and takes the necessary steps to prevent illegal human trafficking for domestic work that often may take dangerous forms for e.g. girl children trafficked in the name of domestic work often ultimately get caught up in the prostitution racket.
UTTAR PRADESH: CHILDREN RESCUED FROM DOMESTIC WORK
A DREAM COMES TRUE:
12 years old Renu Rawat was fourth among the five children of late Mr. Ram Suchit Rawat and Mrs. Sushila Devi. Following the demise of the father the sole breadwinner, the mother Sushila who was about fifty five years old was unable to earn enough to take care of her children. In the midst of such a situation Mrs. Meena (name changed) their neighbour offered to take care of ten years old Renu and give her proper schooling, on the condition that she help the family in the house hold work just like the other children in the family do. Sushila trusted Meena and sent the child to the family for her better future. Unfiortunately the child was made to do all the works the family even to the extent of taking care small children for the whole day. This continued for the coming two years.
The matter came to the notice of NDWWT staff in the course of a visit to Sushila’s village, Ethuria and sprung into action immediately. They discovered on further probing that the child had been working unpaid for the last two years. The child was still hoping to go to school and have a bright future. The team from NDWWT confronted Meena and enquired the reason for not having kept her word to Sushila of taking care of her daughter and educating her. Initially the lady was unwilling to cooperate or free the child. The team citing the Prohibition of Child Labour Act and the Right to Education Act and advised the employer to choose either to free the child or be prepared to face legal action. Alarmed they agreed to free the child immediately. But the NDWWT team further demanded compensation for the two years the child had slogged for them, for which little money was paid. The child now enrolled in school smilingly says, “I will study, become a social worker and will not allow any child to get trapped in domestic work.”
LEADER BY TRUE LIFE EXPERIENCE:
11 year old Vishal (name changed) is the only son of late Mr. Muttary and late Mrs. Premawati. When Vishal was three years old he lost his father after which the mother also fell ill and died probably due to hard work and lack of food and rest after six years. Having lost both the parents he had nowhere to go. His mother’s employer demanded that he ought to work as a domestic help to repay the loan taken by his mother, leaving no other option for him rather to succumb to the pressure.
It was during the pulse polio campaign that the NDWWT staff came in contact with the child for the first time. After discussions and a preliminary study the team discovered that the child had undergone a lot of physical and mental torture under the employer for the past two years. Overwhelmed by fear and anxiety never spoke to anyone. After several attempts by the team they managed to have the child open up. The team with the help of a police officer managed to rescue the child. Meanwhile the team also identified the relatives of the boy. His uncle was willing to take the child to his home and educate him. He is happily living with his uncle’s family and is studying in class three in the village school and has become a leader in the class. He is a leader because he has a lot to share from his own life experience which most of us may not get whole of our lifetime.
ASSAM: RESCUE & REPATRIATION OF CHILDREN IN DOMESTIC LABOUR
Rose and Bena, two illiterate girls from Assam migrated to Manipur in search of employment. Influenced by their friends, they hoped for better wages and comfortable working conditions as domestic workers as. Thinking that they could earn enough to support their younger siblings’ education they moved to an unknown place and people. However to their surprise and dismay, the scenario was quite different. Employed as live-in domestic workers for the same person, they toiled day and night without proper food and proper place to rest. Often verbally harassed by their employer, they earned a paltry sum of Rs. 200/- INR per month as wages and that too only for the first three months. For the remaining 9 months, they went unpaid for no tangible reason at all.
They finally decided to escape and flee to their homes but had no money and also were unaware of the way back home. Inspite of the uncertainty, they risked their lives and escaped from their employer, into the jungle. When the morning came they moved towards the main road (NH 39) that leads to Dimapur. After several unsuccessful attempts, a vehicle stopped. They requested the driver to take them to Assam. After listening to their plight and pondering the possibilities, the kind-hearted driver referred the matter to Sr. Maria Goretti, Manipur state coordinator of NDWWT.
With the timely and meaningful intervention of the driver, they were brought to the centre and given proper care and counselling. The employer was traced out and with much difficulty the staff of the organisation negotiated with him to pay the remaining 9 months’ wages. Due to the ill-treatment they had suffered they were unwilling to be employed as domestic workers. He agreed to pay Rs. 2,000/- each to the girls. Sr. Maria accompanied them till Dimapur as they were scared to travel back home alone.
We aspire not to leave any stone unturned before we witness the end to the human misery caused by trafficking. By no means do we intend to let this rather illicit and lucrative trade thrive and take its toll on the lives of many innocent children and women. Anti-trafficking measures ought to be more organised to challenge the organised and dangerous shape that trafficking is taking. The people of tribal origin and those from rural areas ought to be made aware of how to escape and foresee the perils of trafficking. Also very importantly it needs to be ensured that tangible progress be gained in the direction of the formulation of strong legislations that would protect the rights of those caught up in trafficking especially for domestic work. These ought to be implemented well and put in place and ensure that none of the offenders is able to bypass the law and escape legal action.
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National Coordinator; Project Coordinator