Domestic workers are some of the most vulnerable persons in society – most of them are women, and their labour rights and protection are still contested in Indian law. Incidents of their mistreatment and abuse are common and often come from well to do employers.
In another instance of alleged callousness meted out to these workers by the more privileged and well-off, BookMyBai.com, an online platform where you can post a requirement for domestic workers for various purposes, has put a blanket ban on providing helpers to all Bollywood celebrities.
According to a blog post on the website, out of the 10,000 homes that BookMyBai has provided its services to, the only cases of harassment or exploitation they have come across are from “Bollywood celebrities.”
The writer claims that he has provided the platform’s service to at least 20 Bollywood celebrities, and that he is writing to the blog to warn similar “buddy-startups”. He then goes on to specify the instances of harassment, without naming the celebrities in any case.
1. In the first case, the blog post alleges, ‘Celebrity 1’ first tried to get a male house help for Rs 4000 a month. When the company said that the wage was too low for the requirement by Celebrity 1 (cleaning a 4 BHK house six times a day), she agreed to pay Rs 10,000 per month.
The problem happened when Celebrity 1 allegedly refused to let the domestic help go to his hometown in Bihar when his mother passed away. Even when the company tried to intervene, she said that she wouldn’t let the worker go unless she was given a replacement.
Because of the delay caused by the time a replacement was provided to her, the man missed his mother’s last rites, the blog says.
2. Celebrity 2, the blog alleges, not only had to be provided with seven replacements because of the harassment she put each domestic worker through, but she also refused to give them proper food.
“Each maid worked for 7-10 days before giving up and quitting. She drives a 3-crore car. Doesn’t give food to her domestic help. NO FOOD!!! Really!! Drink tea and eat bread 3 times a day. Wow!” the blog says.
3. The writer says that Celebrity 3 was actually the one who convinced BookMyBai not to deal with their fraternity any more.
The helper was allegedly physically assaulted, and when she came to the company office, the marks were apparently visible on her body. While they wanted to file a police complaint, the abused woman said that she doesn’t have the time to do rounds of the police station.
The blog claims that Celebrity 3 threatened BookMyBai, saying that she has 4 lakh followers on Twitter and will speak badly about the company on the micro-blogging site.
4. Celebrity 4 initially had BookMyBai excited as she was willing to pay well above the market rate in Mumbai. “Initially we were very excited since this would open up avenues for future round of funding for the company too,” the blog reads.
However, the house-help provided by the company to Celebrity 4 was allegedly so traumatised by the verbal and physical abuse she faced, that she fled to her village. She later told BookMyBai that she didn’t want to come back to any city.
The author also says that they were threatened with legal cases but chose to refund the amount to Celebrity 4 instead of pursuing it legally, as they did not have the resources to do so.
5. Celebrity 5, the blogger says, refused to pay the service charges. While the domestic help BookMyBai provided was happy and there weren’t complaints of harassment, Celebrity 5 stopped taking the company’s calls when they tried contacting her for the remaining payment. She also allegedly threatened to sue for harassment and extortion.
The blog ends by saying that BookMyBai would prefer to not earn from certain avenues if the safety of their domestic workers was at stake.