Abuse of kids working as help not unusual in Delhi
Child welfare committees in Delhi say that they see close to 15-20 cases a month of runaway or rescued children who were working as domestic help.
With the arrest on Wednesday of the doctor-couple who were on the run after a physically abused 13-year-old domestic worker was dramatically rescued from their house, the law has for the first time come down heavily on what has become a disturbingly frequent crime in urban Delhi.
Two of the government-run Child Welfare Committees (CWC) - there are six CWCs in Delhi - report that each of them receive as many 15-20 cases a month of runaway or rescued children who are physically abused and illegally hired as domestic workers.
Explaining the desperate circumstances of the children, Aparna Dwivedi, CWC member, central Delhi, said, “In most cases, children run-away from their employers, unable to bear the abuse. Some of them are as young as 8 years old, more common are children in 9-10 age group. But the maximum number of children are around 14 years.”
Under the Child Labour (Protection and Regulation) Act, 1986 it is illegal to employ children 14 years or below as domestic help.
Dwivedi relates another shocking incident from last week (2 April) of a 10-year-old girl who had run away from her employers in Old Delhi.
Describing the trauma that the child had been put through, Dwivedi said “The child was literally shaking with fear when I asked her about her employers. She was brought from West Bengal a year ago to work as a domestic worker. She was placed with another family recently. But they beat her up. After a week, she ran away. She was rescued by NGO workers at the Old Delhi railway station.”
According to Neera Mullick, CWC chairperson for West and South West Delhi, her committee receives 17-20 cases of children domestic workers who’ve either run away or have been rescued by anti-trafficking and chidren’s NGOs.
“In a year, about 100 girl children who have runaway or have been rescued from oppressive domestic work conditions are repatriated to their homes in different states,” said Mullick.
She also confirmed that the mother of the 13-year-old girl who was rescued last week had arrived from Jharkhand in Delhi and was expected to be produced before the committee on Monday.
“The girl is doing much better. She has been medically examined and counselled. On Monday, we will find out more details from the mother about how the girl was brought here and so on,” said Mullick.
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