A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

The Delhi childservant scandal that has outraged India – The Observer

In Nonsense on April 7, 2012 at 16:55

Dr. Couple Arrested For Locking Up A Teen

The Delhi childservant scandal that has outraged India

It was the 13-year-old maid’s desperate cries for help that finally alerted neighbours to her plight. She was standing, sobbing, on the balcony of the upmarket Delhi apartment. Her employers had locked her in, she said, and gone on holiday. Finally rescued by a firefighter, she told a tale that prompted a widespread display of national revulsion.

Her employers – middle-class doctors Sanjay and Sumita Verma – had “bought” her from an agency, which had in turn bought her from her uncle. She was hungry, she said, because they barely fed her. She received no pay and was regularly beaten. Their latest act of cruelty had been to lock her in and go on holiday to Thailand.

The couple claim that they thought the girl was 18 and deny mistreating her, but they were roundly vilified and have been refused bail. In court the couple were accused of “subjecting the victim to a treatment which can be best described as torture”.

Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the story is why it has caused such fury in a country where, after all, the sight of a youthful servant rarely raises a flicker of curiosity. Delhi’s thriving middle class would crumble without its army of domestic servants, whose presence enables couples to go out to work and continue to boost an economy projected to be the largest in the world by 2050.

The most liberal members of that society think nothing of employing a maid, a driver, a sweeper, a cook, a gardener and a couple of house boys who sleep on the roof, or in tiny shared rooms.


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