Published On: Fri, Dec 20th, 2013

Devayani Case: Labour Law Violation Issue, Not Foreign Policy Issue

protest_against_devyani_caseNEW  DELHI:: Several workers’ organizations today held a protest demonstration against Indian government’s one-sided position in Devayani Khobragade case in jantar mantar. The organizations expressed strong outrage at the Indian government’s reaction to the case of visa fraud and exploitation of her domestic worker against Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade in the United States.

In its dealing of the case, the Indian government is only seeking to protect the dignity and honour of Ms. Khobragade, and has shown a complete lack of respect for the underlying issue that of the abuse and exploitation of a domestic worker by a senior official.

Ms. Khobragade’s father, Mr. Uttam Khobragade, is a politician and has a played a harmful role in suppressing the facts of the case and in diverting attention from it.

What Ms. Khobragade has done is not an uncommon practice among diplomats and government officials. It is difficult to expose such crimes as domestic workers, in their vulnerable and terrified state, are unable to bring such employers to justice.

 Minister Shashi Tharoor commented that Ms. Khobragade is being singled out. Instead of protecting such shameless employers, Minister Tharoor should be congratulating investigating agencies who have exposed this common practice.

While the alleged strip search that Ms. Khobragade was subjected to is condemnable, the outrage over her arrest and mistreatment by officials cannot camouflage the deeper questions raised by the case.

In only speaking up for the deputy consular general, the Indian government has belittled a grave and serious labour rights violation, and diverted attention to a foreign policy issue. We believe India needs to be equally outraged for the plight of the exploited domestic worker, who is also an Indian citizen. The Indian government has turned a blind eye to similar cases before.

 Ashim Roy from NTUI said that the Indian government should file a case against Devayani Khabragade in India for fraudulent practices. Anannya Bhattacharjee of Gharelu Kamagar Sanghatan – Haryana strongly condemned the narrow-minded Indian government’s selfish protection of official employers of domestic workers.

Ms Anannya said that it has even been said that Ms. Khobragade was not paid enough to pay the domestic worker a decent wage. Ms. Khobragade and employers like her can ask for a salary raise or not hire a domestic worker if they cannot afford to pay for one.

Along with Gharelu Kamgar Sanghatan – Haryana, NTUI, National Domestic Workers Alliance and other organizations from Jharkhand, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh also participated in the protest.

The organizations demands:-

1) Prosecution of Ms. Khobragade to send a warning to other similar employers

2) Indian government to publicly recognise that the rights of the domestic worker in question have been violated and ensure compensation to her and her family in India

3) Enact a Comprehensive Legislation to protect the rights of domestic workers, as per various bills pending in Parliament

4) Ratify the ILO Convention 189, Domestic Workers Convention 2011

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