Invisible domestic workers

The Domestic Workers’ Rights Union, Stree Jagruti Samiti and SICHREM held a press conference yesterday afternoon at the Press Club, Cubbon Park, Bangalore to highlight the recent rescue of Usha Thopna, a 20 year old domestic worker.

Usha had been employed as a domestic worker with Sandeep and Roski Vat for over two years.  Usha is from a poor background in Assam and came to placement agency in Delhi to find domestic work for a temporary period.  The Vats couple employed Usha from the agency and allegedly paid the agency an advance of Rs10,000.

Usha worked everyday from 5am to 10 pm doing household tasks such as cleaning, cooking and childcare.  Usha was subjected to daily beatings and was physically abused by the with scissors, hot irons and knives.  Usha felt completely helpless – she was new to Bangalore, knew no one apart from her employers and was extremely vulnerable.

Usha was rescued from her employer’s house last Thursday 4 March by the Domestic Workers’ Rights Union, Stree Jagruti Samiti and SICHREM.  Her employers were arrested by Mahadevpura police and were released on bail.

Usha is currently undergoing counselling and Stree Jagruth Jagruthi is working with Usha to help her find her parents and plan for what she will do next.  Usha would like to go to school.

(L-R) Jyothi Swarmy, Documentation and PR Officer, SICHREM, Geetha Mennon, Secretary, Stree Jagruth Jagruthi, Usha  Thopna, ex-domestic worker, Lakshmi and Chennamma from the Domestic Workers Rights Union.

Usha speaking about her experiences.

Some of Usha’s injuries.

The press conference was attended by several newspapers and has been reported today, including online here.

The Domestic Workers’ Rights Union, Stree Jagruti Samiti and SICHREM will be holding a public hearing on Domestic Workers in India on Tuesday 30 March in Bangalore.  We will update the blog with confirmed location and timing details.

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