An order of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes specifying that details of tribals employed as domestic helps be registered with local police stations may be a major step to prevent their exploitation.
The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has made it mandatory for households employing scheduled tribes (ST) as domestic helps to register their details with their local police station and labour office to prevent trafficking of tribals and their exploitation.
This is being done to ensure that adolescents from tribal areas are not employed as domestic workers, and those in employment are not exploited.
The NCST has written to all state governments to ensure that this order is followed. States will have to make amendments to their relevant laws to implement the panel’s diktat. Details of both women and men from tribal communities who work as domestic helps, drivers and gardeners will have to be registered.
“Nobody should employ anyone from tribal areas who is under 18. And those who employ people belonging to scheduled tribes should make a full disclosure at the local police station and labour office about the emoluments being paid to them,” Raghav Chandra, secretary of the NCST told HT.
The NCST which is a constitutional body, has so far steered clear of proposing minimum salaries, but is hopeful that the process of registering the domestics will ensure that their salaries are paid on time and their working conditions can be monitored.
However, it is yet to firm up the details of a monitoring mechanism.
The NCST investigates and monitors matters related to the safeguards provided for the STs under the Constitution.
“Anyone who does not make a disclosure about hiring an ST person would make a case against themselves, and in case of complaint (of mistreatment or non-payment of dues) will be liable to be booked under the prevention of atrocities act,” Chandra said.
The NCST’s proposal comes in the wake of increasing complaints of harassment of domestic helps who come from the vulnerable tribes. A majority of household helps contracted by employment agencies are from tribal areas in states such a Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal.
Unregulated employment agencies and the absence of monitoring mechanisms have also been identified as reasons for trafficking of girls from tribal areas.
The NCST has also written to all states governments to ensure that all hostels for tribal girls have only women staffers. Chandra explained that this is being done to ensure there is no exploitation of girls by male staffers.
“We have also found that men are not as sensitive as women, so in all hostels, only women should be employed,” he said.