Each day an ordeal for them | india | Hindustan Times
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Each day an ordeal for them

FOURTEEN WOMEN labourers at a brick kiln in Nagla Persi in Aligarh district were gang-raped by the brick-kiln owner and his staff . The wife of a labourer who worked in a brick kiln in Hathras was burnt alive with five of her children by the staff of a brick-kiln owner.

india Updated: Mar 15, 2006 00:22 IST

FOURTEEN WOMEN labourers at a brick kiln in Nagla Persi in Aligarh district were gang-raped by the brick-kiln owner and his staff .

The wife of a labourer who worked in a brick kiln in Hathras was burnt alive with five of her children by the staff of a brick-kiln owner.

Four women working in a brick kiln in Dadaun were sexually harassed by their employer.

This is ample illustration of the physical, mental and above all, sexual harassment that the women bonded labourers working in brick kilns of Aligarh go through. In this scenario, the brick-kilns of Aligarh have developed as outlets for sexual harassment of women.

Despite the Supreme Court's ban on engaging any person, including women, as bonded labourer, a large number of women are working as bonded labourers in various brick -kilns of Aligarh and Hathras districts. These women are often harassed physically and sexually. When they try to escape from the clutches of the owners, they are punished severely.

The State Labour Department has imposed a code of conduct defining the mode of working of women labourers in brick -kilns and every brick-kiln owner is required to maintain a muster roll for such women labourers with their full particulars. The brick-kiln owner is also responsible for their security. However, in Aligarh the picture is quite different. Here about 8,000 women workers are engaged in various brick-kilns as bonded labourers.

These women are mostly picked up from Bihar and the interior parts of Uttar Pradesh. Most of them belong to Schedule dCastes and Schedule Tribes who are lured by a nominal advance.

Later, they are made to work to pay off that advance. Their family members are then kept as a surety by the owners of the brick-kilns. Such labourers are so poorly paid that they are never in a position to return the money given to them in advance. Due to this they and their family members are forced to work day and night under the close vigil of the staff of the brick-kiln, living in unhygienic and inhuman conditions.

These women are often sexually harassed and when they oppose this harassment, they are forcibly raped or otherwise physically tortured.

Not only this, the brick kiln owners blatantly flout the rules framed by the Labour Department for the welfare of women labourers at brick- kilns. Even the recent directives issued by Labour Commissioner Sharda Prasad to improve the working condition of such women have been ignored by brick-kiln owners.

Sunita, a woman labourer and a victim of rape at a brick-kiln in Aligarh told Hindustan Times that the condition of women labourers working in brick kilns was pathetic. They were sexually harassed not only by the brick-kiln owners but also by their staff and other powerful persons of the village.

Yet they were not in a position to go to the police, nor were their complaints heard by the authorities concerned.

Assistant Labour Commissioner, Aligarh K.N. Agarwal said that directives had been issued to all brick-kiln owners of the district to prepare muster roll of labourers and if any complaint regarding harassment of a woman labourer was received, prompt and effective action would be taken.