Mostly, minors are brought from North East or states like Jharkhand, and the employer makes a one-time payment to the agency.

Death of a house-help in Bengaluru Time to open our eyes to minors trafficked into the cityImage for representation
news Death Tuesday, April 04, 2017 - 15:59

Phoolmuni, a native of Assam, worked as a househelp in Bengaluru. She lived with the family who employed her in Gopalan Grandeur, a residential complex in Hoodi, close to Whitefield. On Sunday night, Phoolmuni apparently fell to her death from the balcony of the ninth-floor residence. 

The Mahadevpura police are still trying to ascertain if this was a case of suicide, but what's eluding them are the whereabouts of Phoolmuni’s parents, which neither the family nor the agency which sent her seems to have.

While the police say that Phoolmuni was 20, Geetha Menon of Stree Jagruti Samiti, an NGO working towards issues and rights of domestic workers, alleges that the girl was a minor. Geetha says this is a clear case of human trafficking.

Phoolmuni had come to work for Garima’s mother, Late Colonel Grover's wife, Prema Grover in 2014 through Milap Enterprises, a Delhi-based agency. When Garima got pregnant, Prema came to Bengaluru with Phoolmuni.

A one-time transaction was made to the agency and the couple were not paying the househelp any monthly salary, says Geetha.

“The agencies normally operate through direct transfer of the minor. The employer in this case paid Rs 50,000 to the agency as a one-time transaction. The girl was not paid anything,” she says.

According to Geetha, Phoolmuni was 15 or 16 years old and was constantly harassed by the couple she worked for – Vishal and Garima. “The other residents in the building had told them to stop harassing the girl, but the couple blamed the girl for not being clean,” Geetha says.

 “We have tried to get in touch with the agency and have been asking the employers for her whereabouts and contact of her parents as well. They have not told us. We know that she is from Assam but have not been able to identify her kin as of now,” the police say.

“How can the family get into an agreement like this? They have had her in the house for years and don’t know her family?” questions Geetha.

This is not the first time that a minor has been trafficked by an agency to Bengaluru and been mistreated by her employers.

Geetha recounts an earlier case where a 17-year-old girl was trafficked from Jharkhand in 2013. A Delhi-based agency had sent the girl to Ramma Shivakumar, a resident of Gem Regency in Koramangala.   

According to Prakruti PK’s report in Bangalore Mirror, the girl was apparently forced to do household work for 12 hours a day, was barred from leaving the house, from speaking to her parents and was also physically and verbally harassed. She was also not paid any salary while the agency was given a one-time transaction fee of Rs 35,000.

And even though the minor’s statement was recorded by the Viveknagar police soon after her rescue, the FIR was registered only in 2016. The police claimed that they had misplaced her statement.

In another case, a 13-year-old girl from Darjeeling was beaten to unconsciousness in 2014, allegedly by the Bengaluru couple who had employed her. Neekunj and Nafisa Todi, residents of Koramangala then took the girl to NIMHANS, where she was put on ventilator.

They fled then, leaving her at the hospital.

The girl had multiple injuries on her body along with the head injury which resulted in her losing consciousness. “There were multiple abrasions on the body with tied- up marks around hands and legs,” says a Bangalore Mirror report. She was also, reportedly, epileptic. 

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