December 20, 2013
Dr. Manmohan Singh
The Prime Minister of India
The International Domestic Workers Federation, joined by the undersigned 20 Hong Kong domestic workers, migrant and labour groups in Hong Kong, express strong outrage at the Indian government’s reaction to the case of visa fraud and exploitation of her domestic worker against Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade in the United States. In its dealing of the case, the Indian government is only seeking to protect the dignity and honour of Ms. Khobragade, and has shown a complete lack of respect for the underlying issue – that of the abuse and exploitation of a domestic worker by a senior official.
What Ms. Khobragade has done is not an uncommon practice among diplomats and government officials. It is difficult to expose such crimes as domestic workers, in their vulnerable and terrified state, are often unable to bring such employers to justice.
While we condemn the alleged strip search and cavity search that Ms. Khobragade was subjected to, it is our belief that the outrage over her arrest and mis-treatment by officials cannot camouflage the deeper questions raised by the case. In only speaking up for the deputy consular general, the Indian government has belittled a grave and serious concern of labour rights violation, by turning it into a foreign policy issue.
We believe India, and countries around the world, need to be equally outraged for the plight of the exploited domestic worker, who is also an Indian citizen. Globally, governments have often turned a blind eye to similar cases and we support the United States government in investigating and pursuing this case.
We strongly demand your Excellence to take steps to ensure that Ms. Khobragade be subject to the prosecution through a fair trial in the United States so that justice will be upheld for the domestic worker in question. We further demand your government to publicly recognize that the rights of the domestic worker have been violated and compensate her and her family. Finally, we urge your government to ratify the ILO convention 189 and implement legislations to protect the rights of all domestic workers working at home and abroad.
The Association for the Advancement of Feminism