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Addressing housemaids' woes

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FIGHTING ABUSE: An all-woman cultural troupe performs a play in Govindasalai in Puducherry. Photo: T. Singaravelou
FIGHTING ABUSE: An all-woman cultural troupe performs a play in Govindasalai in Puducherry. Photo: T. Singaravelou

Deepa H Ramakrishnan

NGO stages play to create awareness of Domestic Violence Act "The government has announced Rs.10 crore for animal welfare but nothing for these women"

PUDUCHERRY: Chitra (name changed) is a 38-year-old mother of two. Working as a domestic help with no support from her husband, she is struggling to make both ends meet.

She is now on the lookout for a new job, owing to her previous employers shifting residence. "They have been good masters. But since they are leaving, I will have to search for a new job so that my children will not go hungry," says a worried Chitra. Many women, like Chitra, have no job guarantee or a safety net to fall back on.

As domestic helps, they are overworked,, treated badly by the men of the house, suffer physical and mental abuse from husbands and have no respite from work either at home or in the house that they work in.

"We need money to run the family. We cannot work in shops since there is no one else who will look after the children or the house," said voices from this group of women that had assembled to watch a play staged by Samam, an non-governmental organisation working with self-help groups at Govindasalai area in Puducherry recently.

The half-hour play was organised in association with the Puducherry State Veetu Velai Seyyum Pengall Sangam of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions.

The play portrayed how women were ill treated by their husbands and how they could, with the help of the Domestic Violence Act, fight abuse.

"These maids get paid a very nominal salary. Only in a few homes or companies do they get bonuses and saris. The government has announced Rs.10 crore for animal welfare but nothing for these women. There are about 4,000 members in our association and they need recognition from the government and a welfare board. They need medical assistance when they fall ill. The government says that it is not possible to find out genuine housemaids. They can get letters of reference from the house with whom they are working," said Communist Party of India (Marxist) State president T. Murugan.

Memorandum

"We met Chief Minister N. Rangasamy recently and presented a memorandum," said V Sumathi, association deputy secretary and joint secretary of State unit of CITU.

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