'Tighten laws to help migrant workers' - The New Indian Express

'Tighten laws to help migrant workers'

Published: 30th October 2013 07:56 AM

Last Updated: 30th October 2013 07:56 AM

The National Domestic Workers Movement put forth demands, urging the Government to take action on the Human Rights violations on Indian migrant domestic workers to the Gulf.

At a press meet organised by the NDWM recently, women domestic workers, who were abused and harassed in the Gulf gave an account of their plight and demanded that the State and Central Governments take immediate action to bring back the several thousand migrants, who were still languishing in prisons. They also urged the law makers to book illegal agencies, which were exploiting these workers.

A few of the rescued workers spoke about the torture they underwent at the hands of the employers. “I was hired as a caretaker of an elderly person, but was asked to do all the household work. I was subjected to torture when I refused,” said  Manikam, a 45-year-old lady from Villupuram. Several women, who managed to return home, alleged that they have had a long wait at the Indian Embassy. Their cries for justice was also unheard by the authorities back home. “My cries and complaints against the local agent has gone unheard”, said Nadiya, a 30-year-old widow. She alleged that she was threatened by the agent and his tout when she demanded justice. A few other women, who were similarly affected and the family of domestic workers who are still abroad narrated their plight to mediapersons.  Several such migrant domestic workers demanded that the government set up a separate Ministry to deal with the issues of overseas migrant workers and monitor agencies to prevent debt bondage and exploitation. They also urged the government to ratify the ILO convention on Domestic Workers and the UN Migrant Workers Convention and accordingly, adapt their national laws to these international labour standards and ensure implementation.

Labourers from over 15 districts in Tamil Nadu are affected. The National Domestic Workers Movement has been working for this cause for the past eight years.

The NDWM asked the government to address this issue by following the eight-point agenda for action framed at the United Nations High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development that took place in New York earlier this month. Sister Valarmathi, NDWM Coordinator for Tamil Nadu, said, “The government should recognise this as human rights violation and take action to bring these workers back and frame policies to protect them.”

Through an RTI petition filed by the Migrant Rights Council in Hyderabad it was found that there were 4,146 Indians locked up in Gulf prisons.

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