[ Yachu Binny ]
Women Helpline-181, run by the Oju Welfare Association (OWA), has inked another success story by freeing two female bonded labourers, Yaka and Ami (names changed), who were engaged as domestic helpers by different persons at a very tender age. They were made to do all household chores and were not given any education.
Yaka and Ami were among 10 bonded labourers who were freed by the Women Helpline-181 team.
Yaka’s father was in debt, which eventually led him to give away Yaka as a helper to the creditor. She wasn’t allowed to move freely anywhere in spite of doing all the household activities along with taking care of her owner’s children.
During her stay with her master, she fell in love with a man whom she wanted to marry; but her owner denied her permission to marry her lover. She also demanded from Yaka an amount of Rs 20-25 lakhs if she wished to marry him. Of course she was unable to manage that kind of money.
Ami was brought by her parents to Naharlagun to undergo treatment for tuberculosis, but after reaching Naharlagun, she wasn’t allowed to head back to her parents’ house and was engaged as a vegetable vendor under the eyes of her master, and she was not allowed to step out of the house.
After a year-long suffering, they reached Women Helpline-181. They were provided shelter at the swadhar greh (the short-stay home run by the OWA) and given vocational training in trades like beauty care, tailoring, weaving, etc, to help them become economically self-reliant.
Their cases were forwarded to the Naharlagun EAC office, where the owners finally agreed to release the girls and signed an agreement with CO Laxmi Dodum to allow them to earn their livelihood on their own, without any interference.
We have also pursued the DC concerned to provide them with financial aid under the livelihood generation activities for the Puroik community.
Team Women Helpline-181, with the intervention of legal aid clinic advocate Oyam Binggep, registered Yaka’s court marriage with her lover, which is under process.
Bonded labour is one of the worst violations of human rights. Though bonded labour has been abolished, it is in practice in Arunachal under the influence of debts/loans which at the end lead to repaying the debt by working as a domestic helper, which takes them years or even a whole lifetime to get free. Meanwhile, violence keeps them in line.
Women Helpline-181 has received over 591 cases since its inception, out of which 10 are bonded labour cases, and all of them have been freed successfully. So far, 532 cases have been solved and the remaining cases are under process.
Women Helpline provides round-the-clock emergency response to all women affected by violence, both in public and private sphere. Helpline can be accessed through the toll-free number 181. One can also dial its landline number, 0360-2350377, and can WhatsApp at 9436852222, or contact at email@example.com and Facebook page, Arunachal Womenhelpine. (Yachu Binny is Project Manager, Women Helpline-181, Arunachal Pradesh.)
[ Yachu Binny ]