Thursday, February 27, 2020 | ePaper

Ensure basic rights of the domestic helps

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POLICE recovered the body of a domestic help Riya Akhtar, 14, from Dhanmondi in the capital on Friday. The girl died after falling from the 9th floor of a 10 storied building while reportedly trying to escape from the house.   The victim was identified as daughter of Raju from Namapara village in Bakshiganj upazila of Jamalpur district. Newspapers reported that Riya had started working as a domestic help at businessman Mominul Hasan's house from August 4.  
Death of minor domestic helps, whether they are boys or girls, is almost often heard when the media carry the news over the tragic end of their lives. But majority incidents remain unreported. Besides, torturing the domestic help physically and mentally, hurling them abusive words, treating them like the slaves of old days, compel them to work in minimum wage or no wage, et cetera - are very common incidents in the country. Not only that, in many incidents the domestic maids are the victims of sexual abuse and harassment by the employers of their relatives. Sadly, there is no accurate figure of death, torture and sexual, abuse of domestic help though there are dozens of NGOs working on human rights issue.       
In 2015, the government introduced the Domestic Workers Protection and Welfare Policy to prepare a framework in a bid to ensure basic rights of domestic workers. As per the policy, the domestic work has got recognition as a profession. It also had set 14 years as the minimum age for light work and for heavy work, the age set is 18 years and above. Despite the existence of this law, its implementation is poor and limited. It's very rare in the country where any employer was properly punished for the death or torturing their domestic aids. Often, the deaths of domestic helps are marked as the incidents of suicide. And police don't take an initiative to unearth the reason behind the suicide.   
It's observed that children from poor and marginalised families are mainly victims of such social hostilities. These children often stay far from their families and controlled by their employers. We must say the relevant departments of the government should not play a silent role when a large number of our children are deprived of their basic rights.

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