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Girls escape torture by employer

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I AM ALRIGHT: One of the labourers who escaped from her employer speaking to her father with a phone provided by a social worker from Child Line in Coimbatore on Tuesday .- Photo: K. Ananthan
I AM ALRIGHT: One of the labourers who escaped from her employer speaking to her father with a phone provided by a social worker from Child Line in Coimbatore on Tuesday .- Photo: K. Ananthan

Anasuya Menon

They were made to work from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Coimbatore: Fifteen-year-old Lakshmi (name changed) was thrilled when she was promised a fabulous job in a `company' in `the city.' So were Nisha, Janaki and Vasantha. For these girls, hailing from Nirmulai village in Nagapattinam, a job in a company meant a great deal.

But, all they want now is to go back to their village. They were brought to the Child Welfare Committee at Pappanaickenpalayam on Tuesday after they managed to escape from their employer at Pattanam in Coimbatore district. Their eyes turned misty when they narrated their bitter experiences at their workplace.

When a broker from their village assured them of a job in a big company, they decided to leave their homes in search of better prospects. But, little did the girls realise that they were being taken to an obscure mill in Pattanam rather than a big company.

They were not given all the details of their work, but the broker assured them that everything would be taken care of, said John Dharman, Director of Don Bosco Anbu Illam. They were brought to Coimbatore from where the mill owner took them to Pattanam.

He alleged that the girls were made to work from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. and were not given proper food. Apart from the work in the mill, they were also made to clean the cowsheds, tend silk worms and feed the poultry. "The owner used to beat us up regularly and we were not even allowed to take rest," said Nisha. "I wanted a steady income to sustain my poor and ailing mother; but we were not even paid any wages," lamented Vasantha. She was not sent home when her brother expired. Eighteen-year-old Janaki also had scars on her hand which reflected the torture she had to undergo at the mill. "There are eight other girls and a boy working in the mill," she said.

After two months of torture, the four girls escaped from the mill on Friday. They waited till it was 1 a.m. and then sneaked out of the mill. A local politician spotted them and enquired what the matter was.

The girls said they wanted to sell the few ornaments they had, for they needed money to go back home. The politician contacted Child Line, who picked up the girls and brought them to Coimbatore.

They would be taken to the Child Welfare Committee at Nagapattinam, escorted by police.

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