20 June, 2021

Minions Of The Metro Machine

Without them our lives will fall apart. Yet, many homes treat pets better than domestic workers.

Abhijit Bhatlekar
Minions Of The Metro Machine
The first thing you notice about 14-year-old Rose Kisku is the angry gash above her brow. And then the thick black welts on her arms and wrists. Her back too is criss-crossed with purple scars. These are the marks of a koyta (a kitchen implement used to break coconuts) used against this young adivasi from Bihar, working as a domestic help with a well-to-do family in Mumbai’s Nerul suburb. Her crime? She didn’t cook dinner on time.

The wounds are healing but the memory is raw. "Memsaab just picked up the koyta and kept hitting me. I was bleeding all over but she wouldn’t stop," recalls Rose. A day before this, the memsaab locked her out on a rainy night because she failed to find the chocolates she was sent out to buy.

Rose, fortunately, was rescued. Disturbed by the girl’s screams, a neighbour contacted the National Domestic Workers’ Movement (NDWM) office in the city. She was taken away to their shelter. For the young migrant from Bihar’s Chhota Durgapur, it was the end of two years of abject serfdom. Two years of working without getting a...

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