Chennai: 18-Yr-Old Domestic Help Killed By Employers, Was Sold By Trafficker Posing As Aunt
Last week, Mahalakshmi, an 18-year-old domestic help hailing from Andhra Pradesh died in Chennai after her employer allegedly poured hot water on her. She was employed by Muruganandham, a gas cylinder manufacturer and his wife Sushmitha. She was responsible for minor household chores and was also responsible for looking after their ten-year-old son.
It is being reported that on July 6, Muruganandham left home early in the morning, leaving his wife Sushmitha and niece Mithirachini at home. The wife and the niece then tortured and poured hot water on their domestic help which left her in a critical state. Mahalakshmi was not rushed to the hospital and after Muruganandham reached home, he found her dead. The police have arrested the two women. The investigation officer told The New Indian Express, “The deceased had several injury marks on her hands including blood clots and heat boils. It appears she was assaulted with knives.”
Woman posing as aunt sold Mahalakshmi to the family
As per earlier reports, the girl was brought from Andhra Pradesh by her “aunt” Sumithra who also cremated her body. Sumithra had claimed that Mahalakshmi’s parents had died. However, when the National Domestic Workers’ Movement investigated the matter, it found that Sumithra was, in fact, a child trafficker who had forcibly taken her away from her mother in Rajahmundry district in Andhra Pradesh. They also revealed that Mahalakshmi’s parents were in fact alive.
The Logical Indian spoke to Sister Valarmathi of National Domestic Workers’ Movement who said, “Mahalakshmi was brought from Andhra Pradesh five years back when she was around 12-13 years old. She was sold to her employers by Sumithra for one lakh rupees and every month they even sent her Rs 5000. Mahalakshmi’s mother too had been trafficked to some other place.”
Speaking of Sumithra, Sister Valarmathi said, “She had posed as Mahalakshmi’s aunt. She also said that Mahalakshmi’s parents were dead and that she (Sumithra) was suffering from HIV/AIDS and was very poor. We made efforts to bring her to Chennai for treating her as well as assisting her to seek justice for Mahalakshmi. However, when she got to know that a lot of people would be meeting her, she switched off her phone.”
Valarmathi said that a group was sent to her village Rangampet and then the neighbours revealed that she is a trafficker. “Right now only the employers are arrested under the murder charges, but Sumithra still remains untraceable. In spite of informing the police that Sumitra might be a trafficker, they handed over Mahalakshmi’s body to her, who then cremated her. We are requesting the government to conduct a CBI investigation and try the case under bonded labour and trafficking.”
She also added that this is also a case of inter-state labour migration hence making it even more complicated.
The Logical Indian take
A child was taken away from her mother. The trafficker then sold the child as a domestic help while posing as the child’s aunt. The family who bought the ‘domestic help’ tortured her to death. This is a tragic and horrifying chain of events. Bonded Labour is punishable by law, Child trafficking is punishable by law, murder is, of course, punishable by law. However, of what help were these laws to Mahalakshmi who was deprived of her childhood, deprived of constitutionally mandated education, deprived of her dignity and basic human rights and finally deprived of her life at the tender age of 18.
How many of us can honestly say that they treat their maids, watchmen, drivers as humans?
This incident only came to light because the ‘bought’ domestic help was murdered and police got involved. There are many more cases of bonded labour or child trafficking which do not get reported.