She was practically under house arrest for more than three years. Her employers would often beat her and she was not paid a single penny for all the household work she did in the past three years.
Sixteen-year-old Shanti, (name changed), who had been working as a domestic help in Sonepat, was rescued on June 2 by the NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan with the help of Delhi Police. The girl, who hails from Assam, was sexually abused and is now three months’ pregnant.
“My parents had died when I was eight years old and I was living with my aunt. I wanted to earn money for my family. The person who got me here said I would be able to study and work at the same time. I started working at a house, but they never paid me anything. They also didn’t allow me to step out of the house and I had to take care of their children too,” said Shanti, who began working when she was 13 years old.
She had been sold to the family for Rs 22,000 by a placement agency. An FIR has been lodged in this case.
“Madam (her employer) used to pull me by my hair sometimes if I made a mistake while cooking or if the children did anything wrong. I had to cook for myself as whenever they used to get food from outside such as noodles or pizza, I was not allowed to eat that,” she told HT.
“I wanted to communicate with my mausi but I didn’t have her phone number. When I asked about my salary, they said it will be paid whenever I’d go home. All these years. I lived there like a bonded labourer, doing all their work form 7 am to 1 am,” she added.
The happiness of meeting her mausi after so many years was evident on her face. When asked what she wanted to do now, she said, “I just want to go back home. I want to study and become a teacher.”
Shanti’s is not a one-off case. Seven other girls like her have been rescued in the past 10 days following the NGO’s complaints. All of them were sexually abused.
The NGO has received a total of 127 complaints from Assam’s Lakhimpur district alone, where parents had reported missing complaints.
“The high court had passed elaborate guidelines for regulating placement agencies to curb trafficking of girls in 2010. Special powers to assist the victims of trafficking were granted to the Delhi Commission for Women and other agencies for quick access to justice. But hardly any comprehensive action has been taken,” said Kailash Satyarthi, from Bachpan Bachao Andolan.