Sunday, December 28, 2008

India: Modern Face of Slavery

Meena Tirki, 17, left her village with the promise of a new life in East Delhi,
but was soon being abused


DELHI, INDIA -- She came to Delhi dreaming of a new start, of escape from a life of poverty and hardship. Yet when she arrived, Sushma Kumari quickly realised she had been tricked.

Far from being trained in the skills of acupuncture, for two years she was forced to work as an unpaid domestic help in the home of the "doctor" supposed to be teaching her. She toiled from 5am to midnight, seven days a week. She was abused and mistreated. Almost certainly she was brought to Delhi by a professional trafficker; what is beyond doubt is that once she got here she lived the life of slave.

For a woman who has the right to burn with anger, Sushma talks in little more than a whisper. "I really wanted to go home but I was not allowed to talk to my father," she says. "I felt desperate, cheated."

The story of Sushma is a journey to the dark side of the new India, away from the tales of soaring economic growth and gleaming fashion malls, of Western-style coffee-shops filled with a newly wealthy class. The two are surely connected; chief among the reasons for the growing demand for young, poor women from places like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and other desperately poor states to come to toil in India's growing metropolitan centres, is that a new generation of professional women entering the workforce no longer have the time or inclination for household chores. Human traffickers fill the gap...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Independent.co.uk

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