Report for June-Aug 2012
Rescue of Meena(name changed):
Meena aged 12 belongs to a large family consisting of ten members. Her brother and 4 sisters got settled in life. The parents are working alongwith their two younger daughters in a brick kiln and earning their living.
A Seth-(caste identity) named Sen from her village with the permission of her brother and parents took her for work as a domestic worker to a Seth in Patna, Ratnesh. She was working in his house for two and half years. She used to do all the cleaning in the house, sweeping, swabbing, washing clothes and utensils, and taking care of the children. She also used to massage the employer’s wife and children.
After all the work, the lady of the house used to scold her all the time and beat her up. Once she was beaten so badly that blood started oozing from her ear. When her parents came, the employer used to give Rs.600/- and would permit them to talk to their daughter only in her presence. When the mother wanted to take her home for Dusshera festival they did not let her go.
The matter came to the notice of NDWWT, Bihar after a tip-off by the top workers associated with the movement and working in the vicinity. With the help of the “Raid Team” (Dhawa Dal) - of the Bihar Child Labor Department, the child was rescued from the house of the employer on the 6th June-12. She stayed at “Muskan Manzil”, a shelter cum transit home run by NDWWT, Bihar. On the 20th July-12 her parents came and took her with the permission of the labor department and in the presence of an official, with the assurance that they would educate her.
Rescue of a child domestic worker:
A girl named Sony (name changed) aged around 11 years had been working as a domestic help in the house of a doctor in Mecon colony. The girl was brought by her alcoholic father to work from Tangerbasli in November against her will. However being underage which is legally prohibited she had to work for long hours and was also ill-treated by her employers. Therefore one day she fled away from her employer’s place but didn’t know her way back home. However few of our women working as domestic workers found this girl crying and after enquiring came to know about her story and took her along with them. They informed us about the girl and we went and met the girl and talked to her and discovered that she had been forced into domestic work by her father against her wishes. She had not been paid any money and when she asked for money they said that her father had taken the money whereas he had never come to take the money since he had left her. We asked the child whether she wanted to go home, she said she wanted to go back home but feared that her father would again place her somewhere else. We assured the child that we would take her back home. The girl was then brought to a shelter home for temporary shelter and Fr Chetan met with the officials of the labour department and informed them about the girl’s story. She was then taken to the labour department on 2nd of June by one of the NDWWT staff. The officials had a talk with her and then on 5th June 2012 Fr Chetan along with the Labor Superintendent, 2 other Labor Enforcement officers and two of the domestic workers’ union members escorted the girl to her village and also counseled her parents and villagers never to send their child since she is underage and also the law prohibits children under 14 to engage in any kind of work and it was her luck that she didn’t fall into wrong hands.
The labour department made the employer of the girl to pay Rs 20,000 and the state government added Rs 5000 for the rehabilitation of the child. The money has been now deposited into the State rehabilitation fund after proper dialogue with the family of the child the money will be used to rehabilitate the family of the girl.
These are just few instances of the many similar stories of small children ending up in domestic work untold and unreported. Several thousands are trafficked indiscriminately as if they were a commodity. Child domestic workers are in high demand owing to the prolific growth of the nuclear families in the urban hubs of India. The scenario is still aggravated in families where both the husband and wife are working and the need of a domestic worker arises.
A bunch of elated children (previously domestic workers) during a monthly meet-up
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National Coordinator; Project Coordinator