Is Slavery Back?


Maitreyee B. Chowdhury

Maitreyee B. Chowdhury

I am watching a shocking revelation done by the Delhi police in collaboration with local NGOs and a television channel in unearthing a racket of selling innocent young girls from the far flung areas of the country in the capital city. One is shocked at the kind of stories that have been revealed about the total disregard for humanity and even the minimum well being of the girls or their health. Some of these girls are repeatedly beaten up and not allowed money or the liberty to go out of the house, even being treated like slaves by so called educated and cultured people. The families of these young girls have diverse reactions. While some of them are completely unaware of the repercussions of selling off their girls, since they are made to believe that the girl will be staying in a good family and will earn a decent amount which will make her life better. There are others who know about the fate of their daughters once they are sold off but are mute spectators because poverty is so rampant and terrible that they have little or no options left if they are to live. The condition of these girls who are brought from areas such as Bengal, Orissa, Assam mostly differ from person to person and also the agents who sell and use them. Though by and large their conditions are deplorable, there are some who are in worse conditions than others. Some of them have been repeatedly raped, carry infectious diseases and are in such horrifying mental state that they are a poor semblance of their old self.

While the selling rate for these minors differ, the going rate seems to differ from anything between 50,000 to 30,000 with the agent who sources them bagging a cut of anything from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 (less than a $100 US). Seeing all this, one cannot but question, is slavery back? It is perhaps time that every Indian must ask themselves especially those who employ young girls and boys in their homes about whether it is justified employing someone who is underage.

Having said that, the truth perhaps lies somewhere in between, for every minor who is sold off and mistreated there are others who are perhaps better off because the conditions in their own house are so much worse. In a country like India minors working are neither new nor unacceptable in many homes. This is largely prevalent due to the argument that the parents of these girls (and in some cases boys too) are so run down by poverty that the alternative is an even worse option for them. As such the parents think that selling of a child or letting them work in another’s house is perhaps a better option rather than have her/him starve. Answers are never easy in such situations but what can and should be done is immediately stopping the sale of minors who are not only physically but also mentally abused in such a way that they may never recover from it and in the most brutal of cases even succumb to it at the cost of their lives.

Fortunately, it is not only the government who can help out in this, ordinary citizens can too! With little determination and awareness that by employing a minor you are adding to a slave industry of sorts, this could be avoided. In the same vein, efforts must be made to re habilitate these girls and educate their parents about how they are being treated.

Sadly though this menace is not only confined to Indian shores and there have been reports of the same happening abroad too. Hapless youngsters have been brought here under the guise of employment and ill treated and kept in captivity without the information of their parents or family members.

I commend Shah Peerally and his group for being an advocate for social justice. Not only Shah’s team is trying to bring such issues to light through their movies but is law firm has actually won visas for many who were victims of abuses under different circumstances.

I sincerely hope more awareness will actually change the situation around the world and create a fair and just world.


Maitreyee B Chowdhury is a web columnist and a poet. Besides writing on cinema and issues related to women and the environment, she has also been featured in an anthology of contemporary Indian writing, ‘Celebrating India’. She is also a writer for the Shah Peerally Productions Inc.

Shah Peerally is an attorney licensed in California practicing immigration law and debt settlement. He has featured as an expert legal analyst for many TV networks such as NDTV, Times Now and Sitarree TV. Articles about Shah Peerally and his work have appeared on newspapers such as San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, US Fiji Times, Mauritius Le Quotidien, Movers & Shakers and other prominent international newspapers. His work has been commended by Congress women Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee.  He has a weekly radio show on KLOK 1170AM and frequently participates in legal clinics in churches, temples and mosques.


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