A large number of domestic workers work long hours with minimal pay in India. And, often they are treated no better than a piece of furniture by their employers, women in particular.
An assessment released by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) on the 10th of February, revealed the number of cases registered under the general description of human trafficking and assault, in the 28 states and 7 Union Territories of India, during the period 2010, 2011 and 2012 to be 3422, 3517 and 3554 respectively.
Andhra Pradesh reported the largest number of cases, consecutively in 2010 and 2012 (633 and 605). However, West Bengal took over in 2012, registering a total of 549 cases; with southern state Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh coming a close second and third with 528 and 506 cases registered by maids against their employers, respectively.
Interestingly, the Union territories of Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, as well as the Lakshadweep Islands, were the lowest on the list. Lakshadweep in particular, had an impeccable record of zero cases registered over the three years taken.
Among the states in the country, Arunachal Pradesh had the lowest record with just one case being filed over the period, in 2012. The other north-eastern states were lower on the list as well, as compared to states such a Maharashtra and Bihar, which have been consistently high on the list.
Delhi, in the aftermath of the brutal murder of a maid in 2013, scored a 38 in 2011, and a 32 in 2010 and 2012. The nation's capital is becoming an increasingly unsafe place; especially for women.
This data is a consequence of the lack of legislation in the country, with reference to domestic workers. There are no specific wages outlined for them under the Minimum Wages Act of 1948.
The document released by the aforementioned ministry also referred to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Labour & Employment in October 2013, to the State governments and Union Territory (UT) Administrations, to consider the management of the private placement agencies. States & UTs have been asked to register placement agencies providing domestic workers specifically under Shops & Establishments Act.
This will work towards ensuring the help receives adequate payment and works in a safe environment.
Incidentally, the domestic help in India get wages comparatively lesser to those give to Sangeeta Richard, Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade’s employee, who caused an international conflict when Khobragade was charged of visa fraud regarding Richard’s application and salary. Richard was paid Rs. 30,000 per month; majority of Indian domestic help get a significantly lesser amount, as compared to that, in addition to the abuse.
It is clear that alterations need to be made for both, domestic as well as migrant Indian workers, in order to avoid results such as the data from the MWCD, in the future.