Punish the guilty; Bring Comprehensive Law on Domestic Workers

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) calls for the strictest possible punishment to be meted out to Seema Patra, the BJP leader from Jharkhand who has tortured her domestic worker for several years before she was rescued by the police. CITU demands that the National Human Rights Commission, the National SC-ST Commission and the National Commission of Women take suo moto cognizance of the matter and ensure that the tribal domestic worker, Sunita, gets justice of the highest order. She should be provided the best of medical treatment and receive the highest possible compensation. Measures should be taken to rehabilitate her.

Shocking details have emerged about the inhuman treatment given to Sunita. The fact that Patra happens to be a member of the national committee of the BJP MahilaMorcha, and is also the state convenor of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign just shows what lip service the BJP pays to women’s rights! That it happened in the house of a former IAS officer also points to the callousness with which workers are treated by those who take the oath to uphold the Constitution of India. It is surprising that the police took a week to arrest Patra.

This case once again highlights the need for the government to put in place protective legislation for domestic workers, who are one of the largest sections of working women in the country, but have no recognition and rights. A large proportion of ‘live in’ workers are from the tribal community and subject to severe exploitation; some are also victims of trafficking. The BJP government refuses to ratify ILO Convention 189 which emphasises the rights of domestic workers and the need to bring them under the ambit of labour laws. Several draft laws and policies have been drafted and discussed both by trade unions and the government. But these remain on paper because the BJP government is dragging its feet on the issueas it is reluctant to ensure minimum wages and decent working conditions to the domestic workers. Apparently, most of those in power have the same mentality as Patra.

CITU calls upon all domestic workers in particular and working class in general to rise up in both in support of Sunita and for a comprehensive law that will provide domestic workers with minimum wages, social security and dignity of labour.

Issued by
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

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