Am I a commodity?
"I, Sunandha (17 years) was born in a remote village along the Western Ghats of Sindhudurg District, Southern part of Maharashtra State in India.
Looking for livelihood my parents migrated. Thus as a toddler, I have landed in then, Bombay.
Being a domestic worker my mother took me along with her to her work places. As a helping hand to my mother, I started my learning age as domestic worker instead of attending school. Learned the domestic work as an assistant to my mother, having gained confidence to the works of own started as a live-in domestic worker at the age of 12.
Being a girl child and as we did not have a proper place to live, my mother placed me in Mr.Munde’s house as a live-in Child Domestic worker. My job was to keep the house clean and take care of cleaning the vessels and washing the three children’s cloth. Along with the five of the family members, I was living as a sixth member. Though the work load was heavy and sleeping on the kitchen floor with a mat and pillow, the employers did not ill treat me. Being a child at times I could not coup-up with the work load and wept in silence for the fear of losing my safety and living. I was allowed to meet my family members once in a while. As a child I had been carrying school bags not of mine but of my employer’s children. My body was paining carrying the children’s school bags, my mind and heart was getting focused towards schooling some day or other. After working in the same household for two years, my focussed urge to attend school bust out on one day as tears. When my master asked the reason for my cry, out poured my dream of learning. With their permission I joined the non formal school. Having picked up my studies in two years time I applied for my metric examination.
On account of my preparation and examination I was forced to leave my job. While attending my classes now and then I used to attend various trainings on child rights, Child domestic workers’ empowerment programmes conducted by National Domestic Workers’ Welfare Trust (NDWWT)and the Children’s Coordinator used to visit us at our places. As a seventeen year old girl waiting for my metric examination result, started hunting for job as domestic worker. After few months of struggle, found a place with Ms.Mona, who is a party caterer.
We were seven girls working for her. After four months work in Mumbai, Ms. Mona told us that there are some work orders from other states with better package. With a hope of earning more I and another girl of my age left for Ranchi, Jharkhand State along with madam. After working at the new environment for two months, we were not paid for our work. Whenever we asked madam for money to send home or pocket expenses, the reply always used to be “the party has not paid any money yet”. Wanting to escape from her bondage we both girls asked her to send us to Mumbai. In a couple of days she took us to Ajmir, Rajasthan. At Ajmir madam took to a house out of the town and told me to be with this people for a week till she comes back after collecting money to go home. She never turned back.
At this new place I was being tortured mentally and physically. With no rest and work for almost 18 hours harassment, remembered my trainings with the National Domestic Workers’ Welfare Trust on trafficking. One day I overheard the house owner speaking to his friend that he has purchased me from Ms.Mona for Rs.130, 000/- for trafficking. On hearing this, with full courage remembering the various empowerment programmes of NDWWT,escaped from the house in the middle of the night and ran to the Railway police station at Ajmir railway station. The inspector of police on hearing my episode asked for my parents contact number. From the station I called my parents and asked them to come to take me home.
In Mumbai, my mother contacted NDWWT office and with their help, filed a child missing complaint with Mumbai police and Children’s Welfare Commission”.
The Mumbai police along with the father of the child went and brought the girl from Ajmir. After counselling the child is helped to join college for her studies. This occurrence was in the month of December 2013.
Thus the training the child received, helped her to act prudently and timely before being send out for trafficking. By your generous contribution you through NDWWT are training and empowering the girl child domestic workers and rescue the trafficked ones and are helping them to restart their education and living inthe society.
This is not the only episode. We have various such cases from all our working states regularly.
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National Coordinator; Project Coordinator