Working mothers in Gujarat are a scared lot after two very sad incidents. A working couple in Ahmedabad had hired the babysitter, Bindu Sharma for the last three months for Rs 18, 500 per month. Bindu was arrested by Gujarat Police when she was caught striking a deal with a West Bengal-based family to sell the child for a few lacs. She had told the Bengali couple that she was the biological mother of the child but wanted to give her up for adoption since she was poor. Her husband Amit Sharma was also arrested after the police found that he was dealing with Prashant Kamble, a Maharashtra-based baby broker.
The alert Bengali couple founding Bind fishy and alerted the Bengal police who in turn got in touch with Gujarat police. Bindu was arrested two hours before she was going to board a train with baby Rhea.
Gujarat Police with the support of Maharashtra police managed to track Prashant Kamble, a resident of Pune and a primary accused of the case. The police, after conducting an investigation based on technical surveillance and considering all aspects of the matter, found that Prashant Kamble and Bindu Sharma, the two accused, had earlier sold two children in the name of adoption. Kamble was also arrested for selling his biological child for Rs two lacs to a couple in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
In another unregistered case, a babysitter appointed by a working couple used to ‘rent’ the child to street beggars and earn money through this scam. The couple had their worst nightmare come true when the husband came home early due to ill health, only to find out that the baby was missing. It was only after interrogating the babysitter that the truth unfolded.
As a young mother, Vrinda Saraf is having sleepless nights after learning about the recent adoption scam in the city. Instead of keeping a caretaker, Saraf, a chartered accountant even thought of giving up on her profession to take care of her 10-month old son. The adoption scam is putting working women in distress. Worried about the safety of their child, many of them are also rethinking their corporate life.
To address the issue, Vibes of India invited Premvir Singh, Joint Commissioner of Police, Gujarat Crime Branch; along with working women–who raised their concerns on the safety of their kids.
Excerpts from the conversation are given below.
“Women are left with no choice but to compromise on their careers.”
Deenky Shah, Founder, CLO Assist is a mother to a five-year-old daughter and she has appointed a babysitter for her girl. She said, “Gujarat is considered the safest state to be in but cases like this increase trust deficit in parents. As mothers, if we want to continue working we need trustworthy babysitters. Be it in the government or private sector, Gujarat doesn’t have organised child care facility and in the absence of it, all we are left with is babysitters. If caretakers are not trustworthy, where do we go? Women are left with no choice but to compromise on their careers if there is no solution to this.”
Vrinda Saraf said, “After the case, I’m having sleepless nights. My anxiety levels have shot up. Should I leave my work and be with my son at least till he starts speaking? I’m left in dilemma and have been discussing this with my husband. I’m thinking to stay with my child for a few years as I don’t want to compromise on his safety.”
Can we please have paternity leaves?
Deenky Shah said, “Childbirth often puts a woman’s career on a halt. Most times, a child is solely a woman’s responsibility. But if the corporates avail paternal leaves even fathers can stay at home and nurture their children. Drop out of women from the workforce will reduce if the responsibilities are shared. Be it for the safety or the upbringing of children, why does the onus fall on the women?”
Mothers and their guilt factor
Vidhi Bose, vice-principal of the special education department, Udgam School is a mother to a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. She said, “As a mother, I have this constant guilt. If I’m at the office I worry about my child and if I’m at home I feel I’m not giving my best to work. Temples, gyms, malls everything has opened but the daycare centres are still shut due to Covid. It’s been two years and as mothers, we already feel the fatigue.
Premvir Singh, additional commissioner of police, Gujarat Crime Branch, emphasises that parenting is a sensitive matter but we need not be paranoid, just pragmatic. “We have to look for solutions. We have a child, we have a job and it is not an option to leave either. To start with, we need to reconsider the traditional options for the safety of our children. Our neighbours and society committee are our biggest supporters. They can be our watchful eyes when we are at work. They should be our first point of contact.”
These are some of the important precautionary measures Premvir Singh emphasised on:
- Use technology
CCTV cameras can feel like a breach of your privacy but to protect your child you can always install CCTV cameras and biometric devices to monitor your house.
2. Background check
Before hiring babysitters always appoint an agency to do an extensive background check of the caretaker and their family. As parents, if you are handing over your child to a stranger it is your responsibility to know the kind of person s/he is.
If the family and relatives of the babysitter or household are in the city then you should personally visit them at least once. This not just builds trust but also gives you reassurance about the person.
3. Police Verification Certificate (PVC)
Housekeeping staff and domestic help should be registered with the police. Their identify proof and valid documents need to be on our record. In Ahmedabad, despite our circular and insistence on the filing PVC, the compliance is almost nill. This needs to be corrected. Many times parents don’t even know the real name of their house help, they just know the face or the alias and this is irresponsible.
Many people take pride in not visiting the police station in their life but like hospitals or schools, we are a government facility to help citizens. Parents should approach us if they need help.
4. Register on Citizen Portal
Another facility provided by the Government of Gujarat is Citizen Portal, here, you can register your house help, drivers, cooks etc. Instead of living in an environment of mistrust and fear, everyone should put the relevant documents of their househelp on government record. It will be easier for us to help you.
5. Save the emergency number
Always keep the emergency number 100 handy with your family and also teach your children to dial it when in need. Our control room works 24/7 and everyone can feel free to call or visit our centre. Our executives will connect you to the concerned authorities and in an emergency situation, we will reach you in a couple of minutes.
6. SHE teams
Women-related crimes will always be on the radar as SHE teams are formed to stop crime against women and children. Parents can always reach out to our women officers who are always there to look after people especially senior citizens, women and kids.
7. Be watchful
Observe the slightest change in the behavior of your kids. Are they getting too attached to the house help? Are they reluctant to be with the caretaker? Are they complaining of any physical issues?
Not just your child, observing the behavior of the caretaker is equally important. Is s/he giving cell phones to your child? Is s/he scolding the child? Everything should be noted.
Hire a house help only when you interact with her on a regular basis and gradually develop utmost faith in the person. If you have doubts, you better not hire her/him. Have a frank discussion with the caretaker and communicate efficiently as that will solve half of the problems. There are more solutions than problems, we just need to look for them.