A 42-year-old woman from India, Jacintha Mendonca, has recently been sent back to India after she suffered a 14-month ordeal in Saudi Arabia where she was forced to work as a ‘slave’ in a house. Ms Jacintha was allegedly fooled by a Mumbai-based recruiting agency into believing that she would be offered a highly-paid job in Qatar.
Initially, she was taken to Dubai from where she was flown to Saudi Arabia. It was here that she was ‘enslaved’ for 14 months.
Mendonca was admitted to the AV Baliga Hospital in Udupi, Karnataka. “I had a hellish experience in Yanbu. I was made to work day in, day out at three mansions belonging to the employer’s mother, his three wives and their children. I was tortured like an animal,” she said, reported NDTV.
Mendonca was not allowed to go outside the house even for short walks and was regularly insulted by the children in the house.
She managed to escape once in November 2016 but was caught by the police and returned to her ‘owner’. Her employer thrashed her after the failed escape bid and did not even offer water despite her pleading.
When non-profit body, Human Rights Protection Foundation of Udupi got to know about Mendonca, it contacted the head of a non-resident Indians’ forum, Roshan Rodrigues, in Saudi Arabi in April this year. It was then that the volunteers helped her get back to India.
Ms Mendonca was reunited with her family at Mundrangady in Udupi district on 22 September. She has appealed to the Indian authorities to book the people who have cheated her – she does not want to return to the Gulf ever again.
Ravindra Shanbagh of the Udupi Human Rights Foundation said they found her employer in Saudi Arabia after several attempts.
The Logical Indian spoke to Mrs Shaheen Sayyed, a social activist based in Kuwait who has been working very hard for these women who are treated like ‘slaves’ in the households of the wealthy. She said, “I have my heartfelt empathy for Ms Mendonca, and I am happy that she is back in her own country. In most of the cases, the employers are not ready to hand over the passports of these women, and it becomes challenging to help them come back to India.”
“The situation is horrible, and these women face a lot of torture at the hands of the employers. It is important to ban the entry of women as domestic help,” she added.
The Logical Indian community condemns the entire episode and urges the concerned authorities to look into the matter and ensure the fact that similar incidents are stopped from recurring. It is important for the government to deal with this problem in its entirety.
Have you ever spotted a speeding car without a care for the traffic signal? Ever spotted a person rushing to the other side of the road when the traffic light is green? Ever seen bikers use pavements as roads to save a few minutes? Ever seen cars change lanes on highways or rush hour traffic on a whim? Well, so have thousands of other Indians.
Road safety in India is a serious concern. For a country that boasts the second largest road network in the world, it is inarguable that we need to pay more attention to our safety on roads – a place where we step out every day, spend a handsome amount of our time.
The government has come up with several regulations on road safety, but is this enough? Not if awareness around the topic is still lacking.
The intention behind the initiative is to bring together lawmakers, local authorities, traffic police and citizens under one umbrella.
The cities will be rated on parameters such as Pedestrian Rights, Road Lighting and Maintenance, Motor Laws and Traffic Control, Emergency Services, Road Cleanliness, Connectivity, Road Transport Infrastructure, Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management, Road Safety, Differently abled friendly, Road Quality and Road Safety For Children.
Here are the ten cities that were chosen for Road Safety Index 2018 and the reasons that make their roads safe or unsafe:
Mumbai has facilities for the differently-abled like reservations in public transports, special train compartments, concessions on fares, etc. The city that never sleeps scored the best when it comes to citizens’ participation in making the city accepting and warm toward the differently-abled. It won the category ‘Differently-Abled Friendly’.
However, there are areas of improvement – illegal hawkers, pavements and footpaths need to be fixed or reconstructed.
Anyone who hails from the capital of West Bengal knows about its recreational parks and brightly lit streets. Its traffic police deserve special mention for redirecting rush traffic every day as Kolkata roads are narrow and many are one-way streets.
During Durga Puja, the city tries to make Pandals differently-abled friendly by installing ramps.
It won the categories – ‘Road Lighting & Maintenance’ and ‘Road Safety For Children’.
But the City of Joy needs to work more on giving its residents #HappyRoads. Issues of waterlogging and numerous street hawkers, roadside vendors in busy areas need to be solved.
There’s no one who’s been to Delhi and not praised its excellent connectivity. Delhi prides itself for broad roads, top-notch metros, pavements and foot over bridges. The national capital surely serves as an example for cities across India when it comes to road connectivity hence, it won the categories ‘Connectivity’ and ‘Road Quality’ in the Road Safety Index.
While Delhi has made many of its public places differently-abled friendly, the areas that need improvement are long hours in traffic, fixing of roads that pose a hindrance to daily commute and rash driving by bikers.
The city boasts well-marked zebra crossings, adequate footpaths for pedestrians, underground SMART dustbins, reduced encroachments. Raipur fares well in almost all parameters of road safety. It won the category of ‘Road Safety’ and ‘Pedestrian Rights’.
However, the city could do better with stricter fines for traffic violators and awareness about road safety and garbage disposal.
Other cities can take inspiration from Chennai on how to ensure good road safety. The city has wide, well-connected roads that are lit properly. It also boasts rigorous night patrolling where traffic rules violators are fined. One of the best initiatives taken by Chennai is the separate parking space on city roads that prevent traffic from accumulating. It came out on top in the category ‘Motor Laws & Traffic Control’.
Areas where Chennai needs to improve are street lighting and cleanliness.
Indore is one of the few cities that has used plastic waste for construction of roads and covered garbage disposals, which explains why the city won the ‘Road Cleanliness’ category. Indore also has adequate zebra crossings, visual signals, street lights, footpaths.
But areas where the city needs improvement are – strict action against traffic violators, public spaces more differently-abled friendly.
There is a lot to learn from the road safety measures implemented by Ahmedabad – sound medical facilities, separate lanes for local buses, special cab service for differently-abled, wide roads. Ahmedabad won in the category ‘Emergency Services’, ‘Road Transport Infrastructure’ and ‘Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management’.
If the Heritage City improves road safety awareness among citizens, it’s bound to fare even better. Better street lighting and lesser encroachments will work in favour of Ahmedabad.
The other cities shortlisted were Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad but they didn’t win any category.
Maruti Suzuki’s initiative to rank cities will encourage citizens and administration to do better and emerge on top.
The Logical Indian community wholeheartedly appreciates the various initiatives undertaken by Maruti-Suzuki in this direction. Not only the government but we, as citizens of this country, should also pledge to make our roads safe. One of the first steps towards this is that we understand our duties.
We hope the authorities take a note while we pledge to do our own bit towards happier, safer Indian roads.
For more information about the Maruti Suzuki’s initiative and the Road Safety Indexclick here.