PUCL Bulletin, November 2002

SICHREM report
Housewife brands a two-year old infant with an iron spatula

It was reported in The Hindu, that a house-wife, Rama, in Sanjaynagar allegedly branded the two-year old daughter of her maidservant, Girija, on 24/07/02. It is said that the child, Ramya entered the kitchen of Rama, which angered her.

When Girija, the maid was busy with her work, her daughter Ramya entered the kitchen and the pooja room of the house. Angered by this, Rama, the employer who was preparing dosaa, is said to have placed the hot iron spatula on Ramya. When Girija questioned Rama about this, the latter allegedly asked her to get out. A neighbor, who learnt about this, took Girija and the baby to Sanjaynagar police station and lodged a complaint.

SICHREM (South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring) undertook a fact-finding mission into the reported incident. Ms. Margaret, who represented SICHREM, visited Mrs. Rama in Sanjaynagar, Ramya, and Girija in Badrappa layout, and the police officials at Sanjaynagar police station on 26th August 2002.

Rama's Version
According to Mrs. Rama aged 57 yrs residing at No 28, 6th main, 2nd cross, P & T colony, Sanjaynagar, Girija was working as a maid servant in her house for the past 3 months and was paid Rs.300/- per month. Her daughter Ramya, aged 2 years was accompanying her mother .A few days ago Girija asked her for Rs1000/- as a loan but she refused to pay. The employer is suffering from leukemia. On 24/07/02 she had gone to Gangenahalli for treatment. After returning from the hospital she was preparing dosaa, when Ramya asked for dosaa. She gave her a dosaa and also had one herself, then went to take rest.

After some time Girija entered the room with her daughter and asked her how these wounds have appeared on her body suddenly. In reply Rama said that she must have fallen off somewhere or some body must have done it and applied some ointment. Then Girija went out of the house and came back with 10 to15 people and demanded money. Rama said that she was not willing to pay anything. Later they went to the police station for sorting out the issue.

She also said that the child was unclean all the time and she was disturbing them a lot. For the purpose of extracting money Girija must have done this to her daughter. She said that she had not threatened Girija with dire consequences.

Girija's Version
Ramya's mother Mrs. Girija, aged 22years, residing at No: 98, 3rd cross, 1st main, Badrappa layout, was working as a house maid in Mrs. Rama's house.
On 24/07/02 she began her work at 8 am in their house. At about 9.30 a.m her daughter Ramya suddenly cried. At that time she was in the kitchen sweeping. The house owner, Rama, came from the kitchen with the spatula in her hand. When she asked her daughter, she pointed to her thighs and face where the skin had peeled off and the child was sobbing "Auvva, Auvva". She was startled to see her daughter's wound. Hearing the commotion, Rama's daughter in law came there and applied coconut oil and she said some body might have burnt the child. To this Rama replied that she must have fallen or some body must have done this.

Immediately, out of fear, Girija came out of the house and showed it to her mother who was working in a nearby house and came back with 5-6 people to Rama's house for justice. Apparently, Rama told her that she was not willing to give a single paisaa for the treatment; instead she would approach a lawyer.
From the beginning, Rama did not like the child. She always used to threaten her. The aggrieved party lodged the case in the police station with the help of one Mr. Neil.

Ms. Margaret visited Mr. Dadapeer, investigation assistant of Sanjaynagar police station. According to him, he booked the case and arrested the lady immediately after the incident and later she was released on bail. The charge sheet would be submitted by this week. They seized the spatula, which was used for torture.

Mr. Neil incorrectly lodged the complaint that Rama had threatened Girija with dire consequences. Mrs. Girija says that Rama had not threatened her.
Even though Rama has reported that Girija requested a loan of RS 1000/-, it was found to be untrue. Reason for inflicting injury could not be established. But it could have been the infant's lack of hygiene. There was no community hatred between both the parties according to them. There is no reason to doubt that the employer, Rama, had injured the child with the spatula.

No mother would burn her daughter to get money. So Rama's statement that Girija had herself burnt her child is absolutely untenable.

The employer Rama should be prosecuted under IPC 324.

Rama should pay the medical expenses incurred by Girija.

Compensation should also be paid to Girija for the trauma suffered by her and Ramya.

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