Last week, police rescued a 12-year-old domestic help, Sweety, from her employer’s house in the capital’s Segunbagicha area and admitted her to the DMCH in a critical condition. The hapless girl was frequently tortured by her employers, a brute couple, during the last nine months she had been employed in that house. She informed police about her ordeal telling that the brutes used to torture her giving electric shock, hitting her on knees, legs, back and hands with kitchen appliances. They even applied pepper on her eyes and secret parts of her body.
However, this is not an isolated incident; rather hundreds of similar cases occurred throughout the country. As per press reports, domestic helps not only face physical torture, but they also face sexual harassment by their employers. These incidents are on an alarming rise amid the Covid-19 pandemic which has created unrest among the families leading to rising incidents of violence against domestic workers. In some cases, the perpetrators are sued, but in most cases they evade punishment by utilising their power and social influence. The issues are also settled outside the courts by threatening the families of the victims and bribing the members of law-enforcement agencies.Against this backdrop, it is imperative to strictly implement the existing Domestic Workers’ Protection and Welfare Policy-2015. There exist specific provisions for ensuring physical and mental welfare of domestic helps, good behavior on the part of employers, regular payment of workers’ wages and alimony as well as granting sufficient vacations. Awfully, most of the employers are not aware about the official policy and depriving the domestic helps of their just rights. Lots of domestic workers even do not know about existence of such policy in the country. Steps should be taken to make both the employers and the domestic helps aware about it.
The government should immediately formulate a law on the basis of the policy in a bid to curb the indiscriminate abuse of domestic workers. Above all, the law enforcement agencies must have to increase their vigilance for strict enforcement of law.