Domestic workers recount tales of torture

Domestic workers recount tales of torture

Among the sad tales was that of Lizzy’s, a 42-year-old widow with two children. She lost her job after she resisted the sexual advances made by the aged father of her employer.
Breaking down on stage, Lizzy recounted: “The family which hired me treated me quite well. But my employer’s parents came visiting and the 75-year-old man started misbehaving with me. One day, he insisted I kiss him and I refused. I resisted his repeated physical entreaties.”

Finally, the man told his daughter and son-in-law that Lizzy was disrespectful towards him and ensured she was removed from work. “We do not have a voice, no one listens to our version,” she added.

Usha, another victim, was brought from Assam to New Delhi by a placement agency that promised to give her a job. “I was finally sent to Bangalore and for the last two years, I took care of the two children and did all domestic chores of the family,” she said. However, she was repeatedly beaten up. Her ear bears injuries made by ladles and her hand still bears a mark caused by a hot iron box. This 19-year-old does not even know the name of the area where she lived.

Maid placement racket

Naveen Shah, Director of Global College, India Centre, revealed the other form of financial exploitation of women and employees through maid placement agencies.
He revealed that while the employee is asked to deposit the maid’s salary in the agency’s account, only 50 per cent or even less than that is paid to the domestic worker. The employees are also forced to shell out non-refundable deposit amounts ranging from Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000 to the agency. “The agencies then wind up and vanish, and the maids too do not stick to their jobs,” Shah said adding she had lost Rs 20,000 to such agencies.

The meet was organised by Stree Jagruthi Samithi, Domestic Workers Rights Union and SICHREM. The jury panel, which participated in the public hearing, had advocate Hemalata Mahishi, journalist Vasanthi Hariprakash, autodriver and bravery award winner Venkatalaxmi, professor Supriya Roy Chowdhury and faculty of NLSIU, Dr Sarasu Esther Thomas.  

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