A 16-year-old girl, Soni Kumari, from eastern Jharkhand state has been murdered, her body chopped up and dumped in a drain after she was strangled. The murder of the teenage domestic worker took place after she demanded a year’s worth of unpaid salary from the recruiter that hired her.
Senior Delhi police officer Rajender Singh Sagar says that Manjeet Singh Karketa has been arrested for her murder. Karketa worked to recruit girls from rural areas, placing them with families as domestic workers. He had brought the victim to Delhi three years ago after her father died.¹
Police report that Kumari had earned Rs 6,000 a month but that Karketa took all of her salary as a means of controlling her. Karketa would not allow her to contact her family, and even lied to the family she worked for, saying the girl was his relative.²
Finally, after a year Kumari went to Karketa to demand that she be paid so that she could return home.
“Manjeet then took her to his home in Nangloi and tried to pacify her. When his efforts failed, he, along with Shalu and Gauri, strangled the girl on May 3. They then chopped up the body, put the pieces in plastic bags and dumped them in a drain nearby” said officer Sagar.³
The gruesome murder has sparked calls for India to urgently pass the new anti-trafficking law and protect child domestic workers from abuse.
Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:
“How can we allow our little daughters to be brutally killed after trafficking and exploitation? Where is the rule of law?” Indian Nobel laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi said on Twitter.
The case has put the spotlight on the abuse of domestic servants in India where millions of people, including children trafficked from remote and impoverished states, toil for long hours in homes with little freedom or protection.
Satyarthi urged the government to pass India’s new anti-trafficking bill, that was cleared by cabinet in February but has not been tabled in parliament yet, and called for the enactment of another bill to regulate employment agencies.
With stringent punishment for traffickers and quick relief for victims, campaigners believe the anti-trafficking law will result in more arrests and convictions.
Government data from 2016 revealed that around 60 percent of the more than 23,000 trafficking victims rescued in India were children.
In 2014, the Delhi Government agreed to comply with the High Court’s Executive Order to regulate recruitment agencies for domestic work. Yet four years on, little has been done.
Freedom United parter Shakti Vahini is calling for urgent legislation to monitor unregulated employment agencies to prevent them from withholding salaries and using violence against workers.
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