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Delhi’s 1 lakh full-time helps suffer silently

NEW DELHI: Around one lakh full-time domestic workers keep the city’s homes functional and there are many more part-time helps. However, lack of laws leaves these workers, mostly women and girls, at the mercy of employers and placement agencies.

R S Chaurasia, chairperson of Bachpan Bachao

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Andolan (BBA), an NGO, pointed out that even if just 10% of Delhi urban middle and upper middle class households employ full-time maids, the number will be nothing short of 1 lakh. “Add to this part-time workers. It is worrisome that none of these workers have any right and have no laws to fall back on,” he said.

The NGO has rescued 114 minor domestic workers-all girls-in Delhi over three years. Most girls were trafficked and got jobs through placement agents in Delhi. They come mostly from Lakhimpur, Sonitpur and Khokrajhar in Assam; Paschimsingh Bhumi, Gumla and Khunti in Jharkhand; and Bankura and 24-Parganas in West Bengal, said Rakesh Senegar

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of BBA.

Chaurasia said placement agencies now charge a commission of Rs 60,000 from employers. Earlier, it was Rs 20,000, he added. “This reflects the growing demand for domestic workers. The agents now work through phones and don’t run offices. They tell employers to give the salary of the worker to them and don’t allow the girls to talk to their parents. Workers have to sleep in bathrooms and balconies, and are fed stale food.”

Rishikant from Shakti Vahini, another NGO which was involved in the rescue of a doemstic worker from Vasant Kunj recently, said, “Unsafe migration leads to trafficking. Many children and women are being trafficked for forced labour, child labour, forced marriages, sexual exploitation and bonded labour. The employers are also specifically looking for younger children because they come cheap, complain less and remain tightlipped while being exploited.”

In the past two years Shakti Vahini has recued 628 victims of trafficking, including women and children.

Rita Panicker, director of the NGO Butterflies, said girls from Jharkhand belt are more vulnerable. “The city life itself is a traumatic experience for them. To be placed in a middle class home where life is so different from their villages is a big change for them.”

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