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Talk to residents who have hired an underage domestic help and you will soon see them clamouring to justify their actions. “At least she is getting three square meals here. She would have died in her village”, “We treat her very well. We give her new clothes twice a year and also let her watch television. She wouldn’t get these things at home”, and “We take her along for all our vacations. Last year we took her to Singapore in an airplane”.

These are the usual protestations you would hear from those trying to justify their crime. “What most of these people do not understand, or choose to ignore, is that the girl should be in school, just like their children are. She should get the emotional support of her family and should be given the right to make informed choices,” said Rishi Kant, member, Shakti Vahini, an NGO.

What needs to change in the mindset of the middle and upper-middle class which is the primary employer of child domestic workers. Hindustan Times spoke to a number of families who have employed children to work in their homes most of these families have young children of their own. In fact the child domestic workers are hired primarily to take care of these children. But none of these families thought what they were doing was illegal.

“Unless this mindset does not change and the laws don’t become stricter, trafficking is here to stay,” Kant added.

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