(Nirmala Sundharam Memorial-Apna Nirman Mazdoor Co-operative Society Ltd.)
Flat No. 484, Millennium Apartment, Block–C, Sector-18, Rohini, Delhi-110085
Tele Nos: 27859158 (Off) 9810810365 (Mob.) Email: domestichelp@id.eth.net
Office Timings: 12 noon to 4 pm
“Trafficking of Tribal Girls for Domestic Work”
1) Trafficking of tribal girls
  1. Trafficking of tribal girls from Jharkhand and surrounding tribal areas for domestic work to Delhi, Mumbai, Goa and other metropolises is accepted as a serious social problem but few people understand the real depth and dimensions of this problem.
  2. Therefore, the solutions and suggestions that are being thrown up are inadequate.
  3. In fact, most of the studies we have come across are very shallow and the activities planned by various organisations working with tribal domestic workers or for them look very naive.
2) Number of Tribal Girls
  1. The phenomenon needs to be understood from the macro perspective. According to a study reported in The Hindustan Times in March 2003, the number of migrant tribal girls from Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal was nearly two lakhs.
  2. The distribution of these girls across major cities is given in the side table.
  • Delhi 61,000 Kolkata
  • 42,000 Mumbai 36,000
  • Bangalore 13,000 Goa 26,000
  • Total 1,78,000
    1. In subsequent three years the estimated number of migrants/trafficked girls to Delhi alone for domestic work has risen to over one lakh.
    2. Since the number in the other cities is also growing, one can conjecture that the overall number of migrants/trafficked girls is by now three lakhs or more.
    3. It is important to understand the size of this problem in terms of money and the modus operandi of this migration-trafficking.During the last few years, large numbers of tribal girls (including 40% who are below 14 years) are being brought by a chain of agents.
    4. The first agent collects girls from villages and arranges their movement till the nearest big cities such as Ranchi and Kolkata. Recently the agents have started giving advances to parents to bring daughters including minor daughters for domestic work.
    5. From there a second agent takes them to major destinations such as Delhi and hands them over to Placement Agencies for a commission ranging from Rs. 1000-3000 per head. The Placement Agencies in turn collect a registration fee of Rs. 2000-3000 or two month’s salary of the girl to provide placement service for eleven months, on the condition that the monthly salary will be paid to the Agency.
    6. The employers keep these girls as virtually bonded labour.
    3) Total earnings of tribal girls and the amount taken away by the Placement Agencies
    1. The money itself is not a small sum. Most of these girls earn Rs. 1000-2000 per month. If an agency has placed 200 girls it gets (Rs. 1500 x 200 = Rs. 3, 00,000) three lakh rupees per month, totaling over thirty lakhs in less than one year.
    2. Since most of these small-time agents have never seen this amount of money before, they spend it recklessly on drinks and other wasteful consumption and in bribes to the police to ensure protection from complaints.
    3. Most of the placement agencies display a board with ‘Regd.’ next to their name but in fact there is no law to register and regulate placement agencies.
    4. There is a law for registering placement agencies for sending workers abroad but there is no law to regulate the placement of inter-state migrant workers.
    5. In our opinion such a law to regulate placement should be given the top priority by anyone who wishes to curb the exploitation of domestic workers.
    6. It can be estimated that the one lakh tribal girls working as full-time domestic workers in Delhi are earning (1, 00,000 x Rs. 1500x 12 Months = 180, 00, 00,000) or about two hundred crores rupees per year. Of this hard earned money less than 50% reaches their families in Jharkhand while over one hundred core is extracted by vested interests, the placement agencies and the Agents engaged in trafficking.
    7. It is important to understand that mere awareness campaigns.
    8. Cannot tackle exploitation by vested interests who earn over one hundred crores per year from the trafficking of tribal girls in Delhi.
    4) Placement Agency provides no protection, only exploitation
    1. Before placement, the girls are temporarily kept in a ‘hostel’.
    2. Living conditions at the so-called ‘hostels’ are horrible but there is no one to question them.
    3. There are all sorts of physical and sexual exploitation, beating, survival on one meal a day.
    4. The ‘Placement Agency’ has another set of agents to go around and collect the monthly salary.
    5. Even after the end of one year, the girls are not sure of getting their salary from the Agency.
    6. The employer takes no responsibility for this and most girls are forced into another ‘placement’ for a further eleven months.
    7. Many girls do not know the office address of the ‘Agency’. Quite often the ‘Agency’ changes its office to disappear with the money.
    5) Need to Sensitize Employers
    1. Most of the domestic workers are able to take full charge of the family with utmost honesty and responsibility without which it is not possible for the women of the house to take up an additional earning for the family which is becoming so crucial in today’s world.
    2. The domestic workers get up very early morning, prepare breakfast, send children to the school, elders to their work, clean the house during day time, wash, bring back children from school, take care of elderly parents, the sick and so on. But in return not all employer take care of organising rest intervals for them during their 18 hours (average) working hour day, breakfast in time, adequate quantity of food, medicine in need.
    3. Most of the employers conveniently pay their salary to the ‘placement agency’ because that is the only way in which they can keep their ‘domestic worker’ as a ‘bounded labour’. They are not bothered if the girl working for them with full dedication is not paid her salary at the end of her term of employment (which they have deposited with the agency for her) and if forced into another contract for 11 months with another employer inspite of her unwillingness.
    4. They are only interested in the replacement of another girl for their house. Most of the employers are not at all sensitive in children below the age of fourteen years being forced to work as domestic workers in their house because child labour is cheaper for them.
    5. There is an urgent need to sensitize ‘employers’, cut the link of vested interest between the employers and the placement agents, take the help of Resident Welfare Associations, Labour Department of the local.government and of responsible police officials to deal with this problem.
    6. We feel that only an enforceable law can ensure the cooperation of employers and ‘not mere awareness campaign’.
    6) Role of Church Institutions
    1. Symbolic intervention at Ranchi Railway Station, alone with T.V. and Press coverage, is not enough.
    2. What is needed is a sustained planned campaign against trafficking and placement agencies. Besides, the campaign alone is not enough.
    3. It is not understandable that while one wing of the Catholic Church is facilitating placement in Delhi (placement centre at South Extension and Punjabi Bagh), the other wing of the Church (the Domestic Workers Forum from Chetanalaya) is creating awareness about the situation of domestic workers and fighting against trafficking, forced migration and child domestic labour.
    4. Placement by an organ of the Catholic Church in Delhi is giving hundreds of unscrupulous agencies a chance to use Catholic Symbols to exploit innocent tribal girls and their parents.
    5. The Church is absolutely silent about this impact of the placement work of its one wing and absence of cooperation in these two wings. The Church has great moral responsibility to dialogue with non-catholic, human rights and workers organisations on viable alternatives because of the following three reasons:
    6. The route of domestic work to tribal girls in urban centers was initially done by the catholic convents by recruiting tribal girls for routine work of cleaning and cooking at convents themselves and later by providing individual level placement by two placement centers at Delhi.
    7. Catholic girls form a majority of tribal girls migrating / being trafficked for domestic work.
    8. Most of the commercial placement agencies (including the non-catholic agencies) are using Catholic symbols of Cross, Jesus, Mother Mary, naming agencies after Catholic Saints and calling themselves ‘Convent’ which conveys a false assurance to Catholic parents that their daughters are going into safe hands
    7) Important provisions needed in the legislation for Domestic Workers
    1. Can we stop migration or do we need to form healthy and safe route to migration or can we introduce decent work concept in domestic work ?
    2. Trafficking can be stopped and must be stopped but ‘migration to earn cash income for the entire cash-starved families of’ one crop tribal economy is a problem which has to be tackled.
    3. We need to debate whether we can ‘stop migration’ or do we need to create
    safe healthy roots for migrationwith
    ensured return of the earning of our tribal girlsand
    their planned resettlement into mainstream life after few years of cash earning’ and saving from the opportunity of domestic work
    1. We also need to debate the ways and means of incorporating the concept of ‘decent work’ in domestic work instead of merely denouncing the domestic work as ‘dirty work’.
    2. For this ‘domestic work’ needs recognition as ‘work’; and ‘domestic workers’ need recognition as ‘workers’. Since the majority of domestic workers are women and majority of ‘in-house workers’ are ‘tribal girls’ we need to campaign for specific legislation to add dignity to domestic worker.
    3. Fifteen years back, the Domestic Workers Movement of Mumbai drafted the “House Workers (Domestic Workers) (Conditions of Service) Draft Bill 1990”.
    4. But no one knows why it is not pending for the consideration of the Parliament.
    5. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is pending before the Supreme Court of India seeking directions to enact this