HYDERABAD: Even as the case of Zohra Bibi, the domestic help who was held captive in her employer’s home in a posh gated community in Noida has united domestic workers across the country, a similar case was reported in the city on Saturday. However, the incident reported from Punjagutta is not an isolated case. “Employers are never found to follow procedures of the law in case of domestic workers.
They take the law into their own hands,” pointed Sr Lizzie Joseph, the regional coordinator for National Women’s Movement in Telangana. It is a pan India organisation working for the welfare of domestic workers. In the last 10 years, Joseph, who dealt with at least 100 such cases, said that only two were found guilty.
“In one case, where a maid stole `70,000, all of us in the union counselled her and paid back the money. There was only one other similar case,” said Joseph.
Only recently, police officials have become sensitive to these women, she added. This, again, is limited to the 3,000 odd domestic workers who are registered with the Telangana Domestic Workers’ Union which was formed in 2005. After years of interactions with the police, they now inform the union when cases like these come to their notice. Joseph suspects that the victimmay not have been registered with the union. They have been included under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 after a lot of demonstrations only in 2012. The same is the case with including them in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
The NWM has been, at the national level, working to make registration of employers and workers compulsory. “If that happens, we can keep a tab on harassment and abuse and vice versa. But there is no progress there,” said Joseph. The government has also not created a welfare board for these women yet. “We have been seeking for the adoption of a separate law for their care and protection. It is being stalled even at the national level,” she added.
Responding to this, E Gangadhar, joint commissioner, labour department stated that the draft policy stipulated by the Social Security Act is in its final stages and will soon be implemented.
Maid was subjected to extreme physical torture
A day after harassment and torture faced by a domestic help at the hands of her employer, suspecting her role in missing gold ornaments which was later recovered from the home itself, came to light, police have learnt that the 35-year-old was subjected to physical torture to an extent of putting chilli powder at her private parts following which she fell sick.
She was also reportedly filmed in the nude by the accused in an attempt to find out the missing gold ornaments she was suspected to have taken. A day after the Punjagutta police registered criminal cases against a private company Managing Director’s wife Sheema and others, the police intensified the probe into the case. The police also shifted the victim to hospital for treatment.