where trouble was needed

December 24, 2013

The Diplomat and The Help

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aravinda @ 8:03 am

New York Times

India Ink - Notes on the World's Largest Democracy

December 19, 2013, 8:59 am 131 Comments

The Domestic Help’s Views in Debate over Diplomat’s Arrest



When the allegations first came out that the diplomat was not paying the wage stated on the official documents, her father and others protested that she could not afford to pay that much, or even minimum wage. People even trotted out the defense that "all the diplomats do it."

When this cut no ice, all we heard about was increasing the diplomat’s immunity, not about holding her accountable or restoring unpaid wages to the domestic worker, Sangeetha Richard. Furthermore the Government of India proposes to designate Indian domestic helps working abroad as government servants on contract in order to exempt them from US wage laws.

Regarding the employers’ claim that "they make up for lesser wages for their staff by providing a home, food and transportation." the question is, is this what they stated on the visa application form?

Sangeetha Richard and Safe Horizon are taking on a significant uphill struggle. The government of India, which never tried using its clout to change US Policies on issues affecting pollution, food security and other matters affecting hundreds of millions of Indians, has acted swiftly in this case. Going well beyond the issue of treatment in police custody, the Ministry of External Affairs has clearly taken sides with the diplomat and left Sangeetha Richard, also an Indian, to fend for herself.

Many domestic workers earn much less than Sangeetha Richard. I hope this case empowers more of them to speak up for their rights.


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