“I was brutally attacked by my employer” said a 15-year-old girl, hailing from a village in Theni district.
Speaking to The Hindu on Saturday, the Dalit girl, (name withheld) who was still in a state of shock, said in a choked voice that no child, especially girls, should face such a torture.
After hearing people saying that some spinning mills in Erode district paid “lucrative” wages, the girl convinced her father, left with hopes of helping her family fight poverty and joined a mill in the third week of August.
She said, “Little did I realise that I was entering the gates of hell.” As she could not cope with the strenuous work for long hours, she pleaded with the management to let her go home from the second day.
Work started at 5 a.m., and went on till 3 p.m. “When I requested that I be relieved, the employer slapped and abused me. When I refused to work or take food, another well-built man said that they would let me go home provided some one replaced me,” she said.
As the place was new to the girl, her attempt to escape was not that easy. Finally, when they allowed her to speak to her family over phone, her grandmother rushed in as her replacement.
Again, the mill owner refused to let her go and instead the abuse continued, the girl said. When she fainted, they ignored her.
Utilising the opportunity, the girl escaped from the mill premises, only to be caught by the watchman. But, a few people came to her rescue and freed her, she added.
A fact-finding team from Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO, which visited Theni district, has demanded the arrest of the mill owner and also a compensation of Rs. 3 lakh for the girl.
Based on a complaint from the girl’s father, Karuppiah, Theni All Woman Police registered a case under the POCSO Act, 2012. But A. Kathir, executive director of Evidence, urged the police to book cases under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and for illegal confinement.
According to the complainant, many children in the age group of 13 to 17 years were lured into working in the mill on the promise of a lump sum payment after working for three years.
Finally, when they allowed her to speak to her family over phone, her grandmother rushed in as her replacement