Trafficked maids to order: The darker side of richer India
Activists say the offences are on the rise and link it directly to the country's economic boom over the last two decades.
"Demand for maids is increasing because of the rising incomes of families who now have money to pay for people to cook, clean and look after their children," says Bhuwan Ribhu from Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), the
charity that helped rescue Kerketa. Economic reforms that began in the early 1990s have transformed the lifestyles of many Indian families. Now almost 30 percent of India's 1.2 billion people are middle class and this is expected to surge to 45 percent by 2020.
Yet as people get wealthier, more women go out to work and more and more families live on their own without relatives to help them, the voracious demand for maids has outstripped supply.
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
There are no reliable figures for how many people are trafficked for domestic servitude. The Indian government says 126,321 trafficked children were rescued from domestic work in 2011/12, a rise of almost 27 percent from the previous year. Activists say if you include women over 18 years, the figure could run into the hundreds of thousands. The abuse is difficult to detect as it is hidden within average houses and apartments, and under-reported, because victims are often too fearful to go to the police. There were 3,517 incidents