Thursday, 5 April 2012

Save the maids!

Doctors who locked up and starved their maid- Sanjay and Sunita Verma
Image Courtesy- TOI
Today's newspapers have reported the arrest of Doctor couple who locked up their maid in their flat for more than ten days. Locking up a thirteen year old with bread to last a few days and some water to drink is what a couple of educated(?) doctors could do. What are these people? Quacks? For someone who can't even bear to see birds in captivity, this news was shocking. For someone who has had tough luck with maids- i have a long history of run away maids, this news indeed was claustrophobic. Every household these days employ them, whether we like them or not. It is a whoosh whoosh sweep in two minutes, flip flap wash in another five, splash splash dish wash in another five and lo and behold the maid of out of the house before you have a coffee. Some maids work in even five or six households. 


In cities, it is really difficult to spot one of the tribe who is truthful. Good Lord would cross Himself hearing them speak 'truth' after 'truth'! And it would be real magic to see your provisions missing ounce by ounce;) But maids from rural areas who live with in the household is another sad story- some kind of bonded labor! People feel they have 'total control' when they have a maid at home. I have seen maids who sleep in the kitchen, who survive on paltry food and toil for meagre pay. Those advocates of women's empowerment and liberation- can they boast of not having the 'luxury' of a maid at home, sold by a poor family? 


In another case, a domestic help from Thanjavur has been denied leave for, can you believe, 20 years in Saudi Arabia? Mumthas Begam from Thanjavur has been working in a Saudi household for almost 20 years and was last heard from 14 years ago. She has not been paid for 19 years and she is held against her will at her employer's house. Activists of NGO "Pleace India" ( Pravasi Legal Aid Cell) are trying to rescue her. So far, our Government has been silent on the issue. Mumthas has lost all her near kith and kin in these 20 years- her father, mother and brother in the two decades. She is now 45! I am left with no words, but just to feel numb with pain and grief for the poor woman.


 I do sincerely wish the Indian Government takes some serious steps in bringing her back. Maids missing and killed in Saudi Arabia is a much hush hushed news, with Indonesian and Srilankan Governments having strong organisations to deal with such issues. Sadly, the Indian Government is yet to wake up and act. Should there not be a legal assistance from the Government to help such stuck maids abroad? An organisation, perhaps? Please see my earlier post on maids in Saudi Arabia here. Maids are indeed maids, indispensable these days. But they do have a right to live- a basic right to survive with dignity. Of course, i am writing to Arab press to free the poor woman, but who would take up the issue here in India? TOI had published the issue, but i can find no online link to it to link here. 


Let us live and let the maids too, live with dignity.

12 comments:

  1. Even I was unaware of Mumtas Begum's issue :( Thanks for sharing. It indeed is a crime and what the doctors did is unforgivable. One they did this and being such educated people, how could they let child labour happen!

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    1. Well said,CD! Being doctors this couple could have set a good example for others. Instead they have soiled their names:( And yes, is it not funny they say they were duped by the agency that 'supplied' them maid had told them the girl was 18!!! Can't two doctors make out the difference between a 13 and 18 year old?

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Thinking:)

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  3. its so sad to know all this.. World is co cruel to poor people... These kind of posts makes you wanna do something to change the society... Thoughts provoking...
    Thanks for sharing..!!!

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Madhulika!

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  4. this is so disheartening! i really don't know where to start venting my anger! ............................................wicked! so wicked! ......why??...lock her up for 10days on bread and water?..a doctor, who suppose to be concerned about life?.............................for 20years??....i mean......urgggh!

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Ibhade. There are just two classes of people- the monied and the poor...

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  5. This is disgusting. What makes so called educated, highly respected
    people of the society stoop so low! I guess, one of the root causes of
    all this is money. Being rich makes some believe they are superior and
    gives them the confidence to go ahead with acts suited to their self
    interest, even if it means stamping on the basic morals of humanity! Really sad all this. A very good post, CN.

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    1. Rightly said, Arti! It is money, just money. Thanks for the comment.

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  6. I read the horrible stories of maids in Saudi Arabian in Jean Sassoon's books. It is horrifying that they are held captive by their masters and abused, beaten and tortured. Even in India, we find children working as babysitters and older maids all openly subject to exploitation. And, yet there is hardly any action taken. There is so much that the Indian Government just turns the blind eye to. It is sickening.

    http://rachnaparmar.com

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    1. True, but in India there seems to be a system that works for justice, at the behest of press and few good Samaritans. In countries like Saudi Arabia, such mechanism is almost rusty and in ruins:(

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