'Domestic helps have right to work with dignity'

Mumbai, March 2 The arrest of actress Huma Khan, who was seen as Laxmikant Berde's love interest in 'Maine Pyar Kiya', on charges of abetting the abduction and rape of her 12-year-old maid, has sent shock waves through the Hindi film industry.

Sunday, March 02, 2008   |  Copyright: IANS  |  Comments 0 Comments  |  1070 Views

Mumbai, March 2 (IANS) The arrest of actress Huma Khan, who was seen as Laxmikant Berde's love interest in 'Maine Pyar Kiya', on charges of abetting the abduction and rape of her 12-year-old maid, has sent shock waves through the Hindi film industry.

Most of the new generation of Bollywood's leading ladies feel that domestic helps have the right to work with dignity and should be treated like one of the family.

'We still suffer from a feudal mindset. And no matter how liberal we pretend to be at heart, we can't let be them feel totally equal. In my home maids are treated like family,' actress Sameera Reddy said.

Several of these 'power women', singletons in the metropolis, rely heavily on domestic helps as they battle the daily grind - rigorous shooting schedules that sometimes stretch for more than 12 hours.

'I've one house help who leaves in the evening and two live-in maids Nikita and Priyanka">Priyanka. I don't even call them maids. It's very important to let them feel like a part of the family. Show them concern when they're unwell, buy little gifts for them. I trust my two girls completely and leave my five dogs in their care when I'm outdoors,' said actress Koena Mitra, when asked for her reaction to the incident.

Excerpts of reactions from the actresses:

Minissha Lamba: Since I expect the right to work with dignity, I try to extend the same dignity of labour to the people around me. I'm especially careful about the domestic help, driver, valet, etc. They depend entirely on their employers for dignity. It's therefore our duty to be doubly humane to them.

Sameera Reddy: I don't know the truth behind the Huma Khan incident, but in principle I disapprove of house help being treated badly. There was an incident about actress Elizabeth Hurley's maid suing her. Are you aware of it? In the US, domestic helps have to be treated totally at par with the family. They can sit on the same sofa as you. In our country, that is not possible.

We still suffer from a feudal mindset. And no matter how liberal we pretend to be at heart, we can't let be them feel totally equal. In my home, maids are treated like family. I don't have a personal maid. My father would never allow us to be dependent on maids.

Koena Mitra: I've one house help who leaves in the evening and two live-in maids, Nikita and Priyanka">Priyanka. I don't even call them maids. It's very important to let them feel like a part of the family. Show them concern when they're unwell, buy little gifts for them.

I trust my two girls completely and leave my five dogs in their care when I'm outdoors, confident they'd be taken care of. In fact, my dogs run to them before they come to me. As for the security of the two girls in my apartment, the building is full of cops and they're completely safe. No one comes to visit them nor do they take random days off as they are from outside town.

Riya Sen: My maid Sukhi has been with us for 25 years. In fact, I was allowed to stay in Mumbai alone by my parents on condition that Sukhi stays with me. She's an integral part of the family. She knows me better than anyone else. And I can't do without her. Forget about equal rights, Sukhi has more decision-making power in my house than me.

Sukhi dresses me, does my hair, selects my bags and shoes. She even knows all my secrets. Maid? Gosh, she's the 'Maid From Manhattan'.

Pooja Bedi: The older maid in my house is called Benedicta Crasta. We call her Bambi affectionately. And the younger maid is Anita. I don't treat them as inferior at all. Bambi has been with us for 10 years. She sleeps on a bed alongside my children and travels to every part of the world with me.

Diya Mirza: I've two ladies - Maniamma and Siddamma - who help me with the housework. One is a live-in and the other works part time. They're both treated like family members.

Tanushree Dutta: My maids are treated like members of my family. They work hard, they are paid well and get holidays whenever they want. By the way I've no idea what happened to Huma Khan's maid.

Celina Jaitley: We don't have a maid. But we've a family khansaama (cook) and a housekeeper. They've been with us from the time since I was born. Both are handsomely paid. The expenses for their children's education till college have also been borne by us.


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