Giving them their due – Facilitation centre for domestic workers inaugurated.

August 26, 2013

 

Want to make sure that your domestic help gets the benefits she or he is entitled to from the government and is aware of her rights from her employer?

The job has now been made simpler as the Stree Jagruti Samiti inaugurated a worker facilitation centre for domestic workers on Friday, which would maintain a database of the workers. After registering the workers, the centre would help the workers avail themselves of benefits from the government.

Speaking about the need for the centre, Geeta Menon, secretary of Stree Jagruti Samiti, said domestic workers had always been an invisible silent majority and there was a need for them to get recognition. “There is a need to identify them as workers and give them their identity. Maintaining a database will help us give them information on government schemes and benefits that they are entitled to.”

At the inauguration of the centre, the domestic workers were also given a booklet consisting of the number of various helplines, including those of police stations, Labour Department, Childline, Ambulance and Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

Mathew Philip, executive director of South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), urged the workers not to hesitate to call the helplines for assistance.

Anushree, a domestic worker from Jakkasandra, said, “In times of emergency or need our employers turn a blind eye towards us. Although I have been working in three houses for 18 years, my employers refused to help me when I had a medical crisis. We hope that we can get some assistance from the helpline.”

Domestic workers could also approach the centre for assistance if they have any problems related to discrepancies in salary, false robbery cases and physical or domestic abuse.

The centre is located at 2643, 36 A cross, 28th Main Road, Jayanagar, 9th Block, Bangalore- 560069. For details, contact 080 – 22734956.

 

Source: The Hindu, Bangalore, 24th August 2013.


Dignity, Recognition, Social Security

April 12, 2010

The Domestic Workers Public Hearing on Friday 9 April 2010 at NGO Hall, Bangalore, was well attended with approximately 200 people watching.  The public hearing was  organised by the Domestic Workers Rights Union, Stree Jagruthi Samiti & SICHREM.

Interim Observations and Recommendations

13 cases of rights violation of domestic workers were heard by the audience.  From the testimonies given by women and children, it is abundantly clear that the work conditions of domestic workers from Bangalore, Mangalore and Bijapur are appalling, at times dangerous and violative of human rights. Some of the more serious violations include child labour, sexual harassment at the workplace, false accusation of crime, police harassment, disruption of family, inhumane working conditions, emotional and physical abuse.

This problem does not seem to be that of a few isolated cases and it is imperative that the legal system protects the lives of the working conditions of this large group (an estimated of 4 lakh from Bangalore alone).

The Domestic Workers Rights Union has charted their demands to include:

  • Recognition as workers
  • Regulation of employment
  • Regulation of work conditions
  • Right to social security
  • Accident and compensation
  • Penalty for violations of rights

In the light of the testimonies, the jury panel heard across caste, religion, region, race, the jury panel feels that these are justified demands that must be met in order to protect the rights of domestic workers – the silent and invisible backbone of  society, whose services are necessary for the modern and urban society.  There is also an urgent need for the regulation of the placement agencies, keeping in mind the interests of both the employers and the domestic workers as both groups seem to have had experiences of cheating, lack of information and exploitation in their dealings with the placement agencies.

  1. There should be a complete ban on child employment even in the domestic sector.
  2. The public should be made more aware and sensitive to the case of child labour in their neighbourhood by calling 1098.
  3. The low pay rates given to women where they are provided boarding must be looked into.

We appreciate the women and child domestic workers for coming forward with their testimonies and to all the organisations involved in ensuring that this public hearing was conducted.


(from left to right): Vasanthi H, Justice HN Nagomohan Das and Geetha Meenon.

The jury panel (from left to right): Mrs Supriya Roy, Ms Venkatalakshmi, Ms Vasanthi H, Advocate Hemalath Mahishi and Professor Sarasu Thomas.


Domestic Workers Public Hearing – Friday 9 April

April 7, 2010

Please join us at this critical and necessary public hearing on Friday afternoon – we look forward to seeing you there.


Invisible domestic workers

March 9, 2010

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.