Family of ‘enslaved’ tribeswoman demands her release

Relatives of tribeswoman Siva at the Kozhikode Press Club on Wednesday.

Relatives of tribeswoman Siva at the Kozhikode Press Club on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: S. Ramesh Kurup

The woman from Attapady was brought to employer’s household when she was 11 years old

The family members of the Adivasi woman, who was found to have been enslaved in a household in Kallai for 29 years, have demanded her release.

The District Collector had recently given a report that the woman, named Siva from Attappady in Palakkad district, was enslaved by P.K. Gireesh in Kallai. Siva had been brought to Giresh's household as a domestic help when she was 11 years old. She was not schooled further, nor was she helped to get the voter's ID or Aadhaar card by the household, the report said. The Collector had ordered Gireesh to pay ₹8.86 lakh as compensation for having worked in his household for 29 years and allowed the woman to stay and continue to work in the household as per her wish.

The family of Siva, including her younger sister, Masani, brother Murugan and his wife Resi, told reporters here on Wednesday that Girish was not allowing Siva to go home, and that he was pressuring her to denounce her family.

“We went there to talk to her, but she was never let alone by the members of the household. When we called her on the phone, she was repeating the words dictated by Girish”, Ms.Masani said.

Mr. Murugan said that his uneducated sister was being manipulated to file complaints against her family and the social workers who brought her case into the limelight.

“He alleges that we are after the money that he is yet to give her. What do we need money for, when we are healthy we earn our living”, Mr. Masani said.

The family has not yet been able to produce the records asked by the Collector to help Siva get her documents. “We did not know her whereabouts for all these years. No address where we could contact her. We never bothered to get the documents of our mother's death or Siva's transfer certifcate from the school she had studied”, Ms. Resi said.

Social worker Mujeeb Rahman, who had brought the issue to the public, brushed away allegations of attempts at religious conversion of Siva. He criticised the police and the State Women's Commission for not even trying to talk to Siva in private, away from the clutches of the household she was staying with, so that she could speak without fear. He said the police had not yet registered a case of slavery and booked Gireesh based on the Collector's report. He alleged the police and the Commission were in favour of Gireesh, who was an influential member of the ruling party.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 6:52:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/family-of-enslaved-tribeswoman-demands-her-release/article28872443.ece

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