She was virtually sold into servitude

She was virtually sold into servitude

Shwetha had been employed as a domestic help from the age of 13 – in clear violation of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986.

What is even more surprising is that the girl was never paid a regular salary, which is a violation of labour laws and amounts to bonded labour. The girl’s parents revealed that the Jains had even made a bid to buy the girl for Rs 30,000.

“The Jains paid us Rs 10,000 when we sent her to work three years ago. We never talked to them about salary or any such remuneration. She stayed in their house. So, she had no need of money.

Later, when we visited her, the family paid us Rs 2,000 to 3,000 each time. Six months ago, Kanchana Jain made me sign a receipt saying they had totally paid us Rs 30,000 in the last three years,” Shwetha’s mother Geeta told Deccan Herald.

When asked why she had  given away her daughter, Geeta said a relative, Sumati, had spoken to her about a rich family who wanted to acquire a young girl as a domestic help at their home. They promised the child would be looked after well.

“I felt at least that way my daughter would lead a good life,” Geeta said. “So, I sent my daughter to their house.

‘Not allowed to visit’

We were not allowed to visit her nor was she allowed to visit us. Once in three or four months, I went to the house and I was allowed to talk to Shwetha for only five to 10 minutes. My girl never complained about anything to me then.”

Geeta Menon of Domestic Workers Rights Union told Deccan Herald that because the police had been soft on the Jains, the abuses escalated to a point which resulted in the girl’s death.

“The police, who claim that it was an accident and the family had borne the medical costs of the girl, should understand that it doesn’t absolve them of the crime of physically and mentally harassing a little girl and driving her to suicide. They are also guilty of having employed a minor girl at age 13 as a domestic worker.

That is child labour. They also never paid her regular salary. This family should be punished,” she said.

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