My employer forced me to watch while he sexually assaulted his wife


My name is Anita (changed name) and I am from Uttar Pradesh. I was married right after I completed Grade 10. I wanted to study further, but my family didn’t really prioritise my studies and circumstances were such that I couldn’t fight their decision.
A year after my marriage, my father-in-law and husband had a falling out, and he threw my husband and I out of his house. We moved to Agra, where my husband found a job.
We found a small one room to live in a slum near his place of work. The landlord hired me as a domestic worker. His wife was partially paralysed and my role was to manage all the household work and give her massages.
Right from the beginning, I was uncomfortable around my employer. He would look at me inappropriately, and frequently called me to his house late at night for odd jobs. I was very afraid for my safety, but I didn’t tell my husband anything. We really needed my income. I was also worried that if I said anything we would not only lose my income, but also the house.
But one day, when I was massaging the woman, the employer entered the room and told me to sit on the chair. He undressed his wife, and began to have sexual intercourse with her. His wife tried to stop him, but he continued to sexually assault her. The whole time, he was staring at me.
I was numb, afraid and in tears. He had not touched me even once, but I felt extremely violated – as if I had been raped. He also threatened me, said that what he did to his wife, he could do to me too.
I finally broke my silence and told my husband. We didn’t take action against the landlord, but we just left the place the next day.
Anita 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, Anita 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.

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