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article imageEscape route from a drunkard husband

By Armstrong Vaz     Dec 2, 2008 in Crime
Indians constitute the largest work force that the oil-powered economies of the GCC countries employ in various segments. But the low-income groups of migrant workers have often being denied their employment rights.
The most harassed and neglected lot who face abuse and denials of rights are the house maids. Two weeks back, an Indian maid from Goa, sought refuge at the Indian embassy Kuwait, alleging that her sponsor’s thirteen-year-old-son had raped her.
The victim after spending a few days in the shelter provided by the embassy in Kuwait, has since reached Goa. Here another Goa maid Angela Alvares (name changed) tells us why she took up the job in spites of the dangers involved in it, taking the illegal route to Kuwait from Goa’s Dabolim Airport, to escape an alcoholic husband and his beating and to give the children, good education.
I am a mother of two children – a girl and a boy. My husband left me ten years back. He turned his back to me for another woman. Leading a life with him was a living hell. During the day time when he was sober, he was perfect gentlemen, a perfect husband and father.
But the devil in him came out when he got intoxicated. Every night he use to come home in an inebriated state, break all the utensils, beat me and spoiled the sleep of the children. Finally after twelve years of marriage and beatings, I decided enough of the torture. I walked away from him with the children, but then he accused me of having an illicit affair.
I had nowhere to go. The doors of my parental house had closed on my face, when I decided to marry outside my caste. Ours was a loved marriage and a forced wedlock, as I became pregnant and to escape the social disgrace of being an unwed mother, we married.
I was in the eleventh standard of higher secondary education, which is one class after the school education. He was in his final year of graduation. After working completing his studies he changed many jobs and finally after three years he got a government job.
With marriage and child birth, the education dreams died a painful death for me- which are some of the regretful , impulsive decisions, which I took and falling in love and having unprotected sex were some of them.
After moving out of his house to sustain myself and my two children, sold whatever golf ornaments I had and took a room on rent and the rest of the money (Rs.20,000) I paid to the agent, who promised me to look for a job in Kuwait. If I wanted him to pay for my and the children’s maintenance, I would have to go for a lengthy process of approaching the courts which I was not prepared. So I took the easy option out.
After one month, he finally found me a job with a Goan-Mangalorean family. No contract, no signing of papers. It was mutual trust and the word of the agent which I trusted. I was promised Rs. 8000 per month. In Goa I got only Rs.120 per day for a day’s work.
The family whom I took up the job consisted of husband, wife and two children. My job was to cook and look after the children, wash the clothes, wash the floor, clean the surroundings outside the villa - well almost a twenty-four job.
After working here for the last ten years, I now know that I have to get one month’s leave every year and there should a weekly off day for me. And that I 40KD has been fixed as the minimum remuneration by the Kuwait government for maids and 60KD by the Indian government. But that is only on paper and not for me. But most maids get paid 50KD per month.
I start my day at six in the morning and my duties end at eleven in the night. No break in the middle- back breaking task indeed. I am fortunate that there are no physical abuse which many of my Indian maids have been recounting to me whenever I meet them for the Friday mass at the Roman Catholic Church.
But I am constantly verbally abused by madam and my day’s salary is cut whenever the food is not to my sponsors liking.
But like most maids here I have come through the illegal route here, I cannot complain now, I was in a desperate situation. I was ready to take the risk. But I want other Goan and Indian maids to be educated of their rights and not to fall trap to the agents. Most of the maids coming to work here want a secure further for their children and most complain about having a chronic drunkard husband back home.
In Goa, the police agents are running a racket by which the politicians, police all get paid for sending the maids illegally to different GCC countries. A system called “pushing” thrives at the Goan airport, where maids are pushed through the immigration channels by the corrupt police officials, for a fee. The Indian government has banned maids below the age of 30 but age restriction continues to be floated.
A maid hads to have a valid work contract then she is also entitled to insurance cover according to Kuwaiti rules governing maids. The contract is essential to safeguard the rights of the worker and helps the authorities to book those violating.
When a new maid reaches here, she is fortunate if she knows someone, otherwise it is a mental torture, if she lends in a messy situation. The so-called social organizations of Goans based in different GCC countries are of little help. They play succor to only the rich and the fabulous, organizing dances and parties, football events. If you ask them if they have data base of any Goan maids or domestic helps working in a particular country, they are blank.
The other problem is Goa government does not mention about such organization in any of their publicity material, to whom the distressed maids can look forward to help in a land of alien language, and culture. I have heard of the Non Residents India (NRI) cells being set up to help Indians in different countries, but all that only on paper
More about Kuwiat, Maids, Goa, India, Employment rights
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