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Violence Against Domestic Helpers: An Insight

Posted on April 22, 2012 in Society

By Udit Garg:

Domestic helpers or servants- people who help richer families and individuals in their day to day home chores. They work without questioning or saying anything to their so-called, “Master”,’ they never say ‘Please don’t step on that floor, I just mopped it!’ or ‘why are you so rude?’ Of course they are also citizens of India and they have equal rights as any other person residing in India. But, what happens if those Good-for-nothings start speaking truth in front of the real Good-for-Nothings? They will get brutally assaulted physically or mentally, sometimes even both.

International Labour Organization under United Nations stated that 85% of domestic servants in south-eastern countries including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Philippines, Nepal, etc. are women between ages 12-56, and children below age of 14 (who also constitute 25% of the entire domestics help in the region).

Domestic violence on women is inflamed due to various factors which include Cultural (gender discrimination), Economic (dependence of women on men), Legal (Ill-treatment of women and children by men in power), and Political (Limited participation of women in politics). From early times, the socio-economic status of women has been considerably backward when compared to men, and the reason behind it, as I believe, is physical strength in men which is rare in women, and with time, women haven’t overcome those experiences and are still made to believe they are just there to take care of the household and are capable of nothing else. In this case, female domestic helpers are doubly victimized for not just being a servant but also being of the ‘lesser’ gender.

Domestic violence has several serious consequences on victim. Non-fatal consequences include: injury, unwanted pregnancy, HIV, headaches, etc., fatal consequences on the other hand include suicide, homicide, and maternal mortality; while mental consequences include depression, fear, anxiety, eating problems, etc. Governments all over the world have been working endlessly with help of various NGOs to eradicate domestic violence in their respective countries and strict laws are being implemented against rule-breakers.

I believe domestic servants are also humans with just socio-economical backwardness, which they want to improve by working hard, day and night, so that their children won’t have to live a life similar to their parents. Government should implement strict laws against the perpetrators of such violence, should make sure such voices aren’t snubbed by external pressures and should include domestic services of domestic helpers into the labour law so that domestic helpers can feel security and can get various governmental benefits like medical claims, least salaries for skilled/unskilled work etc.

“Charity starts at home!” lets implement this phrase and work hard to reduce violence against domestic helpers by being eyes and ears of Indian law force and treating our own helpers as ‘helpers’ and not servants or slaves.