• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 6:00pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 December, 2013, 4:47am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 December, 2013, 6:49am

Maid in USA row reeks of hypocrisy

The maid in USA row between Washington and New Delhi rumbles on with media on both sides adding to the din with some shrill voices and jingoistic claims.

The few facts that have not been disputed so far are that India's deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, had employed a live-in maid from India and did not pay the minimum wage as required by US law. The New York police acted on the basis of the maid's complaint and Khobragade was arrested, strip searched and put in jail.

Employing a live-in maid is regulated more stringently and is a more expensive affair in Western countries than in Asia. The problem arises when families take their maids along to countries like the US or Canada where employers can be deemed as aiding human trafficking if the stipulated conditions are violated.

Not too long ago, a court in Canada convicted Hong Kong emigrant Franco Orr Yiu-kwan of human trafficking in relation to his employment of a Filipino maid he brought with his family when they moved to Vancouver. The Canadian federal police also issued a warning against taking maids along during holidays.

The number of hours that a live-in maid works can sometimes put unwitting employers in contravention of anti-slavery laws.

Khobragade should have been aware of these regulations and her diplomatic status was not a licence to override such laws. But the New York police and prosecutors who went after her should likewise have been aware of her status and alerted the US State Department of the case. There has been an apparent disconnect regarding the case, with Secretary of State John Kerry expressing regret over the incident and a few hours later US Attorney Preet Bharara defending the arrest and strip search.

What is interesting in the US prosecution's stand is that diplomatic immunity is not a licence to escape the clutches of law. Very true.

Many countries complain that foreign embassy employees get away with a lot, thanks to their diplomatic immunity. Just ask Pakistan. Two of its citizens were shot dead by an employee of a foreign embassy. But he left the country without facing a trial as his country was adamant that he had diplomatic immunity. Guess which country he came from.



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This article is now closed to comments

This is 2 separate issues...
First they must accord her the courtesy as a consulate officer and the strip search and etc is rude and arrogant.
Second if she is found guilty , then act upon the law and arrest her ...
The manner she is treating at her position is disrespectful and outrageous.
"But the New York police and prosecutors who went after her should likewise have been aware of her status and alerted the US State Department of the case."
If you would have read the many, many articles on this incident, you'd know that the State Department was notified early on and was involved throughout the whole process.
Quickly slamming out a column during a holiday period where one lets one's feelings of national unity with a perceived "victim" cloud one's opinion is just bad journalism.
Why does it reek of hypocrisy? India has a class ridden social structure where maids are grossly underpaid and routinely exploited. The ruling class mentality towards the poor is arrogant and supercilious. No-one in this Deputy Consul General's position could have failed to consider what the laws of the USA are. She just wanted a cheap servant.
you left out numerous other major details
this helper was treated LIKE AN ANIMAL , not just underpaid, so stop making sound so pedestrian
please update your article with all the facts
"The number of hours that a live-in maid works can sometimes put unwitting employers in contravention of anti-slavery laws."
What more need be said?
First - she is a consulate employee - not an officer, which is why she was not entitled to
diplomatic immunity. Second - she knowingly was dishonest, when applying to bring her
maid into the US.
As for the strip search, she should be treated the same as every US citizen that has been
arrested in similar circumstances.
Lastly - know your American law - arrest is first step of the legal process - not the last.
It was a strip AND cavity search!! Explain why that was necessary for a 'social' crime - not paying the full wages due - for any person, ignoring the 'diplomatic' aspect.
This is American double standards at its utmost.
Rudeness and arrogance may be symptomatic of both sides --- for all we really know of this incident! Does being an individual consular official really mean a person should be considered sacrosanct, as seems to be suggested here at 4.44pm.
As an aside, being both rude and arrogant to officers (simply) doing their job can turn the tables on any person irrespective of their "apparent" normal behaviour and position. It sadly works both ways! Not many individuals particularly likes rudeness and arrogance and even if they are trained to ignore it outwardly, inwardly something may snap. Enough -- can be enough!!
I agree with Chaz_Hen. Also, to allude to the Raymond Davis incident in such simplistic terms is completely disingenuous. The Pakistan government permitted Davis to exit the country only after massive blood money was paid to the victims' families.
"treated LIKE AN ANIMAL"? Citation please.


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