A senior executive with a French engineering firm was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly torturing her 15-year-old domestic help who was rescued a day earlier with severe head wounds, bite marks all over the body and a badly swollen face.
The assault in the upscale Vasant Kunj area has put the spotlight back on trafficking of minors and the lack of a legal framework governing domestic work. The Delhi government’s draft bill --- Delhi Private Placement Agencies (Regulation) Bill, 2012, is yet to become a law. The bill, however, is limited only to placement agencies.
Following the latest incident, the Delhi government has said the case would be heard by a fast-track court to ensure that the girl gets justice.
Even though India banned children under 14 from working as domestic servants in 2006, scores of children, both boys and girls, are trafficked from various states such as Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.
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A surging demand for domestic help is fuelling a business that, in large part, thrives on human trafficking by unregulated placement agencies across the national capital.
On Tuesday, police arrested Vandana Dhir, a resident of south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj who is the country communications director of Alstom India and South Asia. She was sent to police custody for a day. Her maid was rescued on Monday evening with severe head wounds and bite marks all over the body is recuperating at Safdarjung Hospital.
The teenager, who was working for Dhir for four months, was naked when she was rescued with the help of an NGO, Shakti Vahini, neighbours said. Dhir didn’t allow the girl to wear clothes so that she couldn’t escape. Her head was bleeding and some of the wounds were infested with maggots.
Dhir, 50, lives with her 80-year-old mother and they have two dogs. It is not known if the girl was bitten by the dogs.
Alstom refused comment. “At Alstom, we have a very high value system and though we do not interfere with somebody’s personal matters, we are observing the developments closely… let things become clear and then we would be able to comment,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
Dhir told the police that the girl fell in the bathroom and injured herself. But the girl, who is from Jharkhand, told labour department officials that she was abused several times and was not allowed to speak to anyone, said a source.
“She has a cut on her scalp, lots of bruises on her face, neck and hands. She is admitted in the emergency, but is out of danger,” Safdarjung Hospital medical superintendent Dr BD Athani said.