The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) on Tuesday met the Special Commissioner of Police (Crime) and the Joint Commissioner of Police (South East Range) and asked them to train the police personnel on provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
“Delhi has emerged as an epicentre of violence against domestic workers. A majority of these are tribals from Jharkhand and Jashpur [Chhattisgarh], and Assam. The Act prescribes stringent punishment as well as a provision for 50 per cent compensation to the victim immediately once the facts of abuse or assault are ascertained through medical tests, etc. But the police frequently omit this in the first information reports,” NCST chairperson Rameshwar Oraon told The Hindu.
Dr. Oraon said the Commission is
collating data from FIRs filed in such cases during the past three years and the number of instances during which the Prevention of Atrocities Act was included by the police.
Last month, a 12-year-old girl from Jharkhand revealed how her employers forcibly tonsured her head — a crime as per the new category of offences added in March though an amendment to the existing 19 punishable offences under the Act.
On April 27, a tribal in her late teens from Singhbhum in Jharkhand, who was working as domestic worker in Model Town, was found dead. There were injuries on her body. Her employer — businessman Sachin Jindal — and his wife Shilpi Jindal were arrested, but provisions under the Act were not included in the case.
“There is a need to regulate the law and improve the working conditions of domestic workers — How do private placement agencies treat them? Do the workers earn a minimum wage? Do they receive their wages in a bank account and have passbooks? What are the working conditions inside the houses?” he added. The Draft Delhi Private Placement Agencies Regulation Bill has been pending in the Assembly since last year.
On September 10, 2013, Jharkhand-based NGO Diya Sewa Sansathan (DSS) submitted a list of 240 placement agencies to the Delhi Police, which tribal girls had pointed out as illegal or as places where they were abused.
“There was no response to this information or on our RTI on the action taken,” said Baidnath Kumar of the DSS.
“Our records show that tribal girls and women working domestic workers are usually the victims of abuse. Often, they do not speak the language and are new to the city. There is a need to sensitise Station House Officers, Sub-Inspectors, Investigating Officers, who are the first officials required to respond,” said Rishi Kant of NGO Shakti Vahini.