Delhi: Domestic help undergoes ordeal

Sakshi TalwarSunday, March 11, 2007 (New Delhi) NDTV:

It’s all very well to mark International Women’s Day with fanfare every year on March 8 but a large number of India’s girl children are very far away from any dreams of freedom and emancipation.Manju was recruited as a domestic help at the age of 15 by a placement agency in Delhi.Her first assignment was in Mohali in Punjab and the agency told her she would be paid Rs 1500 a month.But Manju didn’t see a penny. She couldn’t complain to anyone since the family she worked for wouldn’t let her make any phone calls. “I wasn’t allowed to talk on the phone. I was told I will get Rs 1500 rupees but I got nothing,” said Manju.After five months in Mohali, Manju’s agency transferred her to a job in Dehradun, and again she was not paid a single rupee. NCW intervenesMeanwhile, Manju’s family was desperate for news of her but the agency refused to share even the most basic information like her address. Finally, Manju’s sister Elizabeth, who works in Mumbai, asked her employer to help out. Together, they contacted a Delhi-based NGO who tracked Manju down in Dehradun. Both the families who Manju worked for claim they paid the employment agency directly. The police refused to file an FIR against the owner of the agency.”It took eight hours for police to file the complaint. (The) girl got no salary for working for 11 months and police said to go to court for compensation,” said Rishikant, social activist.NDTV went to the placement agency’s office in south Delhi only to find it shut. The police claim it will track down the owner of the placement agency eventually. And now the National Commission for Women is fighting for Manju’s rights.”There are so many acts involved in the case – slavery, child labour, illegal confinement etc. We’ll make sure action is taken,” said Girija Vyas, Chairperson, NCW.According to the NHRC report, at least 45 thousand children go missing each year – all victims to the child trafficking trade.Manju was amongst the few to be rescued and reunited with her family but what about the rest.

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