Migrant domestic worker rescued after being held captive for two years
Sarika Bai (name changed), a 25 year old, was trafficked from Orissa two years ago to Delhi on the pretext of a job and was employed by a family in Patel Nagar. The employers didn’t allow her to speak to her family and she was made to work for long hours. She was kept forcefully by the family for two years before she was rescued by a joint team led by National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour (NCCEBL), Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Patel Nagar, Central Delhi, Office of the Labour Commissioner, Woman Welfare Society Delhi, Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) and Delhi Police, from Patel Nagar on 4th December 2018, Tuesday evening. The team of Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) will provide legal aid to the victim. Living in the heart of Delhi, she had never thought that she would be held captive by a family. In a city, where the Prime Minister of India, the President and every other minister resides, this has come as another major blow for the safety of bonded labours and their rights. Leveling her charges against the family for misconduct and physical abuse, Sarika Bai said that she was beaten up brutally by the family for not following their orders. She said that she even tried to run away on multiple occasions from the house. “I was made to work from 6 am till approximately 1 am every day. I was forced to work despite being exhausted and failing to do so, I was beaten up by the family,” said Sarika. Her employers have not paid her wages from past two years. Woman Welfare Society had learnt about Sarika's plight and informed the National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour (NCCEBL) which initiated action. Delhi Police is inquiring the matter against the accused Mr. Vineeth KS and Mrs. Reegend JKS and strict action will be initiated, said police officials. Convener of National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour (NCCEBL) Nirmal Gorana said that the victim is under the protection of the Vigilance Committee and she has been sent to a shelter home. “She will be repatriated to Orissa and her wages will be recovered. There are still thousands of labours, who have been deprived of their rights and the government has failed to come out with any policy or law for the same. There is a need for stringent law and repeated demands have been made to Delhi government regarding the same,” said Nirmal Gorana, convener NCCEBL. He further said that there are approximately twenty five million female domestic workers across India out of which more than 90 percent fall under the category of bonded labour. Bonded labour is any labour or service rendered under the bonded labour system, and is illegal in all of its forms. The Bonded Labour System (abolition) Act 1976 provides definitions as to what bonded labour is according to the law. A bonded labour is a worker who incurs or has presumed to have incurred a bonded debt. A bonded debt is an advance obtained/presumed to have been obtained by a bonded labourer under or in pursuance of the bonded labour system restrictions in employment and movement, working on nominal or no wages and beggar work. Lack of prompt action and lackadaisical attitude of law enforcement agencies to keep a track on employers, who hire domestic workers; gravely highlights the lack of coordination between government agencies on the matter.