New Delhi domestic workers protest rape

July 22, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, July 22, 2016: The rape of a young house maid by her employer in New Delhi has forced 50 domestic servants to gather in protest.

They want stricter laws for their protection and security at work.

The 27-year-old domestic maid was raped last week by a 60-year-old retired merchant navy officer. The wife and daughter of the accused were reportedly in another room in the house when the crime was committed.

Holding placards and shouting slogans, protesters held a march and a demonstration on July 21 near Parliament house. An organization working for the rights of domestic workers, including Chetnalaya, the social service wing of the Delhi archdiocese, organized the protest.

“Domestic workers are in high demand in Delhi,” said Anushika Thompson, advocacy and networking officer of the Domestic Workers’ Forum of Chetnalaya. “But they continue to become victims of atrocities of rape, domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse and other types of inhumane exploitations.”

She expressed concern that many are suffering in silence. “The absence of a law to secure the rights of domestic workers is what makes their fight for justice difficult. In many cases, perpetrators get off scot-free,” she said.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that there are nearly 4 million domestic workers in India. Even though the Indian government supported ILO’s 2011 convention, Decent Work for Domestic Work, it has not ratified it.

The convention requires each member country to fix a minimum wage for domestic workers, ensure their security and decent living conditions.

Due to lack of legislation and because it is the biggest unorganized sector in the country, domestic workers in India face under or nonpayment of wages, no holidays, termination of employment at the whims and fancies of the employer, and physical, mental or sexual exploitation.

Kamla Devi, a domestic worker who was part of protest, told ucanews that “we are working to support our families; not to get exploited at the hands of our employers.”

She said that just because “we are poor, these people think they can do anything with us and get away with it.”

House maids in the national capital are young girls from tribal areas such as Jharkhand and Bihar. Many of them are Christians looking to better their lives with a city job and to support their impoverished families.

– ucan

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