A phone call by a girl who felt the pain of 11-year-old maidservant working for an influential family in east Delhi, helped the latter get her childhood back.
Natasha (name changed), who lives in the same society flats where Parul (name changed) worked as a maid, decided to call the child helpline after she heard about the harassment that Parul was allegedly subjected to by her employers.
Parul, who as per law, is under-aged and therefore can’t be employed as a maid, was rescued by the Labour Commission of Delhi around 10 am on Wednesday. She was working with a family from Bengal living in Vasundhara Enclave. The family had brought her to Delhi from a small village in district Char of West Bengal to look after their children.
As per the information given to the NGO that helped in her rescue, Parul was reportedly beaten up by the family. "The family had also forcibly shaved her hair and would harass her for not doing enough work," said Ashok Aggarwal of Social Jurist, the NGO Natasha called up to complain. The NGO then contacted the Labour Commission that rescued her on Wednesday morning.
Parul was sent for medical examination to a civil hospital in Jhilmil soon after her rescue. "We are trying to trace her family in West Bengal. Parul’s employers will have to pay a fine of Rs 20,000 for employing an under age. Till we find her family, Parul will be lodged in our welfare home at Nirmal Chhaya," said KR Verma, deputy labour commissioner.
But child activists say Parul’s rescue is a rare case. "There is a law against employing children below the age of 14 years. But thousands of such children are working as domestic servants in posh Delhi houses. These kids are not rescued. Even the families employing them don’t know that what they are doing is illegal," said Ramesh Gupta, president of Bachpan Bachao Andolan.
"The Labour Commission acts only when we push them. The government has not kept a check on the placement agencies which are mostly responsible for trafficking of young children to Delhi. These children are brought to big cities from remote villages to work as domestic servants," said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, an NGO working on child trafficking.
"Unfortunately the Labour Commission and Delhi police hardly acknowledges working of children as domestic servants as part of child trafficking. So far they have hardly cracked 12 to 15 such cases that too when pushed by the NGO’s," said Rishi Kant.
The NGO also alleged that the government has so far not done much to ensure rehabilitation of rescued children. "They are simply sent back to their villages instead of making efforts to help them make a better future," added Kant.