A 14-year-old girl is raped by the owner of a placement agency who "bought" her from her relatives for a paltry sum for being employed as a domestic help. In the past two months, there have been more than 100 such cases of abuse in the capital of young girls/boys by owners of mushrooming unregistered placement agencies, according to NGOs.
While a recent RTI answer says that only 119 placement agencies have been registered with the government under proper rules, social activists maintain there are around 6,000 illegal placement agencies in Delhi.
When the girl was rescued from a home in Gurgaon she was five months pregnant. She was allegedly raped several times by the placement agency owner and was threatened of dire consequences if she disclosed the incident to anybody.
Staying at present at Mukti Ashram, a rehabilitation centre for such victims, the girl who hails from West Bengal, shared her trauma with this reporter.
"I was brought to Delhi saying that I can study and earn here. The first time I was raped was three months after I was brought here and then the process continued. Whenever I resisted, I was beaten till I fainted," the girl, who is not being named, told IANS.
Even after working for almost two years, she was paid nothing; instead she was raped and forced to work.
Her case points to the grave problem of mushrooming of such illegal agencies in the capital.
"These agencies buy minor girls and boys - who basically hail from poverty-stricken regions of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar - for just Rs.2,000-20,000 as soon as they land up in the Delhi stations . With a dream of earning and living a good life, every year thousands of such children are cheated and made bonded labours," Rakesh Senger, a social activist, told IANS.
Even after Delhi High Court's judgment in December last year directed the government to ensure regularization and registration of placement agencies operating in Delhi, several people are openly flouting the rules.
"Rescue operations are led by Delhi Police, but a lot of work is still required by the labour department and other government departments for the protection of children and against trafficking," Dhananjay Tingal of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), a child rights organisation, told IANS.
NGOs like BBA, Shakti Vahini and some others working for children's rights are preparing a report that says there have been over 100 cases of abuse of young girls/boys by the owners of illegal placement agencies.
The court order asked Delhi Police to inspect the placement agencies. However, till now no process of inspection has started, said Tingal, adding that even if the girls are rescued it is only done after their parents complain or after social organisations step in.
"The police are supposed to take action by themselves to check illegal placement agencies operating in Delhi. Such agencies contribute to the rising figure of human trafficking in the capital," he added.
Meanwhile, Amod Kanth, chairman of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said that keeping minors in placement agencies is itself illegal and such agencies cannot be regularised.
"Children cannot be employed in any household as it is illegal. Our commission is taking very strict action against these agencies whenever there is any information," Kanth said.
In the recent past, several cases have cropped up where domestic workers have been allegedly raped and sexually assaulted. A 20-year-old domestic worker from Jharkhand was raped allegedly by her employer and his two friends here in west Delhi June 20.
(Rashi Agarwal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)