My name is Reeta (name changed) and I am from West Bengal. I migrated to Faridabad a few years ago in search of work. I took up a job in a high rise apartment across the road from where I live as a domestic worker. I was also looking for other opportunities in the same building to add to my meagre income.
Other domestic workers had told me that I could approach the security guard in the building to look for a job, so I did just that. The security guard told me there was a house in the building that had a vacancy. When I went to the house to ask about the job, a single man of about 35 years opened the door.
He asked me if I knew how to do housework, and I replied that I could clean and dust. I took a look at the house, and told him the salary I was expecting. What he said to me made me very uncomfortable. He said, “Don’t worry about the money.” Before I realised what he was implying, he showed me his phone, which had an inappropriate (sexually explicit) picture on it.
I immediately left, and refused to work in that house. When I told my husband, who was working as a guard in the same building, we decided to go and confront the man. Instead of getting scared, he threatened us with police action and said he would get our entry into the building banned.
Reeta is among millions of women domestic workers in India who are forced to keep silent about their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace. Migrant status, desperation to earn and lack of strong legal mechanisms to prevent and redress such instances in their workplace make it harder for them to open up about their experiences. With #MainBhi, Sita has joined hands with the Martha Farrell Foundation, supported by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, to strengthen institutional mechanisms and response to their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace. Find out more about the project here.