Domestic Slavery and the Role of the illegally run Placement Agencies

‘They promised me a good job in Delhi. I came along as my mother found it difficult to feed the whole family. But after coming to Delhi, life was far from what they promised. I worked long hours, never got paid and was sexually abused by my employer’s friend. I finally ran away from there.’

This is a common story of hundreds of people, men women and children, who are trafficked on the pretext of a good job in city. Many of them hail from villages of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and the North-East. Many children are sent by parents themselves who are unable to feed their children. The Delhi Government recently decided to review the functioning of placement agencies and put an end to this dubious business. This happened only after an eighteen month old boy was kidnapped by an owner of a placement agency. But many still continue to suffer.

The chain starts when an ‘agent’ or trafficker, who often is a neighbour or a distant relative, offers to give a good job in the city. For the villagers who have barely enough to feed all their children, this is a golden opportunity to send a child or two to the city and get rid of their responsibility and also get regular income in return. They happily send the child with this friend. After the child reaches Delhi, he/she is in contact with the family for a few days. Soon there is no contact and there is absolutely no money going back to the parents. The trafficked victims are kept in congested rooms, fed barely enough for survival till they are placed somewhere. The luckier ones land in a ‘kothi’ as a domestic help. The others are sold in marriage or to a brothel where they suffer never-ending abuse in all forms.

The luckier among the domestic helps will land in a good family. Some of these families who are aware of the modus operandi ask for adults and insist on paying directly to the maid. The others end up paying to the agency till the eleven month contract expires and the agency continues to make money without giving even a penny to the maids. Apart from this many children are abused, physically, emotionally and sexually by the employers. No contact is maintained with their families back home who keep waiting for the money and file missing complaints after months, even years after the child leaves home. The agencies also seize all the important documents so the trafficked victims cannot even leave and go back home. When they ask for money, they are asked to work for a few more months. Feeling cheated and helpless, many run back home and get a few more people to sell them off to agencies to make some money for the work they have been doing. A few find strength to complain to the police and receive support from law enforcement agencies. Many agencies are also involved in supplying maids to homes of law enforcement officers which in turn helps them run successfully without any hindrance. These agencies, to avoid arrest, also keep changing their names and locations. Gradually everyone assumes that these agencies are registered, but unfortunately, they are not. The documents they show, the receipts they give are all bogus. Even if arrested, they get bailed easily because our law fails to book them under any section.

Today everyone needs a maid and these placement agencies run smoothly in communities who believe they are all legitimate. The need of the hour is to get all of them registered, check the trafficking and abuse of victims, stop child labour, and make stringent laws.


Outline/Structure of the Workshop

The forms of Human Trafficking in India         5 minutes

Human Trafficking for Domestic Slavery and the role of the placement agencies                  25 minutes

Laws related to the regulation of Placement agencies in India                  10 minutes

Role of the Department of labour             5 minutes

Case studies                             5 minutes

Question answer session        10 minutes




Learning Outcome

Modus Operandi of Placement agencies

How organized the crime is

Govt, initiatives to combat trafficking for domestic slavery

Laws to combat trafficking of domestic labour

Role of Law Enforcement in combating the menace


Target Audience

NGO workers, policy makers and the law enforcement

schedule Submitted 4 years ago