ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Clear Bias against Domestic Workers

The country urgently needs a comprehensive national law covering domestic workers.

A clash on 12 July between domestic workers and their employers in an upmarket, gated housing society in Noida has snowballed into a full-blown class war with an overt anti-Muslim dimension. In the chain of events sparked off by the failure of a 27-year-old domestic worker called Zohra Bibi to return to her home in a slum after a day’s work in the nearby Mahagun Moderne Society, the police and the government have betrayed a clear bias against domestic workers. The police searched the complex, which has 2,000 flats, only cursorily when Zohra Bibi’s husband called the helpline at night. The following morning, they failed to engage effectively with a group of residents from her slum who had gathered at the society’s gates to enquire about her, allowing a riot-like situation to develop. Had the police conducted the initial search with a modicum of sincerity, the problem may not have escalated. Would they have responded to a distress call about a missing person so casually had the caller been someone from a privileged background?

Most tellingly, however, while the police moved rapidly on three first information reports filed by the employers, residents and the builder, arresting 13 people from the slum, they have done little to investigate Zohra Bibi’s complaint that her employer hit her. Even more blatantly, union culture minister Mahesh Sharma, who is the local parliamentarian, pre-empted the legal process by declaring that the residents were not at fault and that he would ensure that the arrested slum residents did not get bail for years. Speaking only to society residents, and not the domestic workers, Sharma stated without a trace of irony, “No one in this country has the right to take law and order into their own hands,” as though oblivious to the spate of incidents—since his government took charge three years ago—in which lawless mobs affiliated to Hindutva groups have attacked and murdered Muslims.

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Updated On : 27th Aug, 2017
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