MANASH PRATIM DUTTA
GUWAHATI, March 12 - Young girls employed in the guise of the ‘beauty and wellness’ sector under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) have been subjected to mental and physical exploitation, raising a question mark over the safety component of the Central government’s flagship programme.
Several girls hailing from different parts of the State, have voiced their ordeal in the last few days.
While some of them have lodged verbal complaints with the agency concerned, many have reportedly fled from their workplace unable to bear the torture.
Victims have even alleged that their passports have also been taken away and their monthly salaries remain uncleared.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, one of the victims who has reached Guwahati today, said, “After completing the six-month beauty and wellness course under the PMKVY at Orion Edutech, Panjabari, I got a placement in Hyderabad in December last year. The placement officials first informed me that I would have to work as a beautician, but after reaching the place they placed me in a spa centre where I faced a lot of physical and mental harassment.”
The victim girl reached Guwahati along with another girl who had faced similar abuse at her workplace.
According to another victim, a team of ten girls – all trained under PMKVY in beautification sector – had left Guwahati for Hyderabad in December last year.
“Prior to our departure the officials concerned gave a visual presentation about the facilities to be available in Hyderabad. They also informed us that there would be the option for us to work either as spa therapists or beauticians. But after reaching Hyderabad, we realised that the whole presentation was fake,” the victims rued.
“There was even no proper arrangement for food and lodging for us. First, we were taken to a spa located in Jubilee Hills area of the city where we were asked to sign on some appointment letters. Then we were taken to another spa centre located in a five-star hotel on the campus of Ramoji Film City. After reaching Ramoji Film City, we came to know about the reality that despite working as beauticians we were appointed as spa therapists, that made our life miserable as we were subjected to sexual harassment from various customers,” she added.
Recalling the horrible experience, one of the victims said, “In Ramoji Film City we first underwent training on spa by a Khasi woman. Two of our team members ran away to Assam on the first day of the training after learning that we would have to massage both male and female customers behind closed doors. I had to face sexual assault from customers almost every day. I informed the management of the spa about my plight, but my complaint fell on deaf ears. Instead, they told me to adjust with the environment for a better future.”
Reacting to the incident, Nilakshi Sarma, manager of the 181-Sakhi helpline service of Assam, said, “The victim girl gave an account of her plight over phone from Hyderabad. But she could not dare lodge any case or take any legal action. So I ultimately advised her to return to Guwahati. Under the PMKVY, girls from economically weak backgrounds pursue training in beauty and wellness and I think the situation is more serious than it appears to be.” Sarma said she would write to the Hyderabad police about the matter.
Ranjan Sarma, the placement coordinator of PMKVY at Orion Edutech Centre in Guwahati where the victim underwent the course, said, “During recruitment we had informed them that in Hyderabad they would have to work in the spa sector and they agreed to do so. We have not been informed about any sexual harassment till now.”