ABUSED DOMESTIC WORKER, PABNA – BANGLADESH

In these photos, we visit Ramela Khatun a young girl healing from the abuse she received as a domestic worker – By Mubassar Khan

Ramela Khatun - " I couldn't breathe I couldn't see…There was no medicine I was covered in blisters. They told me I couldn't do anything and because I worked for the police, and that I would be blamed."
Ramela Khatun – ” I couldn’t breathe I couldn’t see…There was no medicine I was covered in blisters. They told me I couldn’t do anything and because I worked for the police, and that I would be blamed.”
Ramela's father: When I found her I took her straight to the hospital.
Ramela’s father: When I found her I took her straight to the hospital.
Ramela and her mother.
Ramela and her mother.
Ramela watching as the kids in her village play
Ramela watching as the kids in her village play
- According to a survey by the Domestic Workers’ Rights Network, at least 567 domestic workers died from unnatural causes between 2001 and 2013 in Dhaka city alone. (Dhakatribune)
– According to a survey by the Domestic Workers’ Rights Network, at least 567 domestic workers died from unnatural causes between 2001 and 2013 in Dhaka city alone. (Dhakatribune)
- The number of child domestic workers are quite high as well – a total of 420,000 children aged 6-17 years were domestic workers in Bangladesh in 2007, according to a baseline survey by Unicef and International Labour Organisation. (Dhaka Tribune)
– The number of child domestic workers are quite high as well – a total of 420,000 children aged 6-17 years were domestic workers in Bangladesh in 2007, according to a baseline survey by Unicef and International Labour Organisation. (Dhaka Tribune)
Children who live in Ramela's village. - Over 315,000 young girls from 6-18 years old are sent to middle class households in the city to do chores such as cleaning, cooking, and even looking after children.
Children who live in Ramela’s village. – Over 315,000 young girls from 6-18 years old are sent to middle class households in the city to do chores such as cleaning, cooking, and even looking after children.

In Bangladesh’s largest cities, middle class households employ children, mostly young girls, to take care of the house. By law it is illegal to employ anyone under 18. But the law doesn’t apply to domestic workers. Without legal protection it has left these young girls exposed to abuse and violence.

Like what happened to 13-year-old Ramela Khatun, 2 years ago, she left her mother and father in a village near Pabna to work for a police officer and his family in the city of Chittagong. What happened next would change her life forever. She said the wife pushed her into boiling water, and put burnt hot spoons on her back on several occasions for “failing to follow their instructions.” There wasn’t a single day that passed for her without a beating from the officer’s wife Ramela claims.

Six months later when her father went for a visit he discovered his daughters body covered in burns and bruises

For Ramela, this was modern day slavery where she was treated like a property. Like many young girls trying to escape poverty, she was imprisoned in the confines of a stranger’s home.

She now stays at home with her family looking for work again, when asked about going to school she said her family couldn’t afford it.

To this day, Ramela has not received the justice that she deserves. Her ex-employer is a police officer who bribed higher officials to stop her case from being filed.

So like many other girls, Ramela has fallen victim to a judicial system that fails to protect them in a culture where abuse against girls like her is part of the cultural norm.

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