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 daughter’s 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.
By: Adnan Khan