Child labour laws not strictly enforced - Batticaloa Domestic Workers’ Union
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
The Domestic Workers’ Union, Batticaloa, yesterday (21) held a protest to raise awareness on abuses faced by domestic workers and strongly condemned the recent death of an underage maid in Colombo.
The Union said that the Government must immediately put in place legal mechanisms and policies that will enforce the requisite age limit, fair wage, appropriate leave, safety and all other fundamental labour rights for domestic workers, to ensure that such incidents do not occur again. Several women joined the protest beating drums seeking the Government’s attention to immediately set laws to protect children being used in labour.
President of the Batticaloa Domestic Workers’ Union, Sathyavani Sarasagopal said the use of child labour in domestic work, sexual abuse/violence and all other forms of abuses faced by domestic workers in Sri Lanka should end. The recent death of a teenage girl from Diyagama, Thalawakela, shocked many in Sri Lanka.
“In spite of stringent laws against child labour and abuse, the fact that a minor was employed as a domestic worker in the home of an MP is abhorrent;that a child had been subject to torture and sexual violence is shocking. We must understand that the loss of this life cannot be compensated,” Sarasagopal said. “The death of this young girl should be the last. We need to do the needful to rectify this situation at the earliest. Those responsible for her death must be tried and punished as per criminal law.
Doing fundamental justice for the child’s family is the responsibility of the Government,” she further said. In this context, the Domestic Workers’ Union demanded immediate action to be taken against: the Illegal employment of the child;subjecting the child to torture; subjecting the child to sexual violence and for the murder of the child.
She also said that the State must guarantee such incidents do not recur in Sri Lanka and that domestic workers must be brought within the jurisdiction of labour laws and an efficient mechanism be put in place to monitor conditions and issues related to domestic labour.
(Pix by K. Saravananan - Batticaloa Corr)