Friday, December 20, 2013

Indian maids speak out against their poor treatment in India.

(This image is from - it shows people protesting because maids in India do not seem to have enough rights or legal protections)

There has been a lot of negative news recently about the country of India - India has been receiving a lot of bad publicity. (Publicity means stories in the news. Normally you can receive good or bad publicity from the news.)

Awhile ago it was reported that slavery (people being 'owned' by other people) still exists in India and that 1/2 of all the world's slaves live in that country.  Recently there have also been stories about the poverty in that country and the fact that many children do not grow to a normal height because they do not receive enough food when they are younger. India is among the world leaders in poverty (poverty is when people do not have enough money to live decently).

Now, an Indian diplomat (someone working for the Indian government in America) has been arrested in New York City for allegedly (it is claimed but hasn't been proved) treating her maid more like a slave than an employee.  (A maid is someone hired to do cooking and cleaning etc.) The Indian government claims this is not true, yet, in order for a person to be arrested (taken into custody by the police or other law enforcement authorities), there has to be some evidence.  

Apparently the diplomat's maid claimed that she was not being paid very much money and that she was being forced to work too many hours.  In the United States this type of allegation (a statement that something wrong has occurred) is taken very seriously. We do not allow wealthy/rich people to treat their maids or servants like slaves.

The poor treatment of maids seems to be common in India.  Here is an article about this situation. It seems to me that there are many terrible social problems in India that its government needs to try to fix.  

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to speak out on something - to forcefully make statements about something, usually to express a truth which most people don't know about; to attempt to make people aware of something that is wrong (you can also 'speak out against' something)

a controversy - an issue over which people really disagree

alleged mistreatment - if something is alleged, someone claims something but it hasn't been proved. Mistreatment means bad treatment or a case where someone or some organization acted badly toward someone else

a fellow maid - another maid; in this case 'fellow' does not mean 'male' - it means another

little recourse - recourse means the ability to get something done; therefore to have little recourse means that if something bad happens to them, they can't get justice for what was done to them.  

minimum wage - the lowest amount of money you are allowed to pay someone

lashed out at - been very critical of, criticized.  Literally, to lash someone is to hit someone with a whip.  This is a whip. So to lash out at someone is to verbally attack someone.

to be strip-searched - this means the police forced her to remove all of her clothing so they could make sure she was not carrying a weapon.

U.S. Marshals Service - the 'police' who arrested her

standard procedure - they said they strip-search everyone they arrest

the dropping of charges - charges means the formal complaint by the government of the US that a person did something wrong.  If charges are brought against a person, the person must appear in court.  Court is where a person is either found guilty or innocent. India doesn't want this diplomat to have to go to court.

atrociously - very badly

a legitimate expectation - a fair or real expectation.  If you expect something, you believe something should happen.

to err - to make a mistake

protests erupted - a protest is when a group of people gather to express their dislike for something. A volcano erupts:

demonstrators - protesters

to burn an effigy of Obama - this means that they burned dolls that looked like Obama.

to snub someone - to deliberately refuse to meet someone in order to try to insult them or make them feel upset

to tender an apology - to offer an apology

unsettling - disturbing, bothersome; if something is unsettling it should bother or trouble a person.  This US official is saying that the people in India are focusing on the story of the diplomat but not on the story of the poor maid who was possibly badly treated.

in cases of exploitation - in cases where maids are not treated well

they will side with my employers - they will take the side of the employer, they will help the employer cover up the poor treatment

affluent - wealthy; if you are affluent, you have money

near starvation - near dying due to a lack of food

exploitation - the misuse of another in order to get some type of benefit

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