ANDHRA PRADESH

Moving flick on little maids' plight

HYDERABAD, AUG. 21. Hired by a flashy, mobile-flaunting careerist couple always on the move, the 12-year-old maid, Yaadi, spends the whole day mopping the floor, cleaning utensils, washing clothes, doing errands and tending their little daughter.

Home alone

Drudgery apart, she goes through long spells of loneliness. She is locked inside the apartment when the family goes out and her only contact with the outside world is the neighbour's maid with whom she speaks after tapping the wall thrice. But one day, Yaadi managed to run away to freedom.

Robbing a child of her childhood is inhuman, to say the least. But does it prick the conscience of a city, teeming with self-centred, ambitious and career-minded couples? The plight of domestic helps like Yaadi was brilliantly captured in a moving short film made by Disha with support from the M. V. Foundation. It was screened for presspersons here on Saturday.

No favour, this

"It is nothing short of solitary confinement and mental torture. People in cities think that by employing deprived children they are doing a big favour -- extending to them the best of comforts, good food, clothing and pleasure of watching TV. By confining them, and making them do backbreaking work, they are actually traumatising the children, curtailing their freedom and depriving them of their childhood that should be spent in school. A survey revealed that 40,000 children are employed as domestic helps in Hyderabad. We need to bring all such children out," said Shanta Sinha, Magsaysay awardee and trustee of the M. V. Foundation.

Call for justice

Vanaja of `Disha' said a plan would be readied to fight this pernicious practice. Sister Lisy of St. Francis College, who has done lot of work on domestic helps said there had been instances of employers raping, torturing and throwing acid on child maids. Manohar, a senior advocate, called for awareness and strict implementation of laws against child labour. S. P. Chakravarthy, who directed the film, wanted the Government to treat employment of child maids as bonded labour.