“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
In a country of 125 cr people with all diversities with us we have one thing that bonds us.YES!domestic help . For us Indians, it is inevitable for us to carry on our household chores without domestic help.Despite this we are often so detached from their personal lives, that we neglect their basic needs and amenities. Yes, it might not be the case for most of us but do we take the time to inquire about their daily lives? I seriously doubt!
As per data provided by the National Domestic Workers Movement, the number of domestic workers in India range from official estimates of 4.2 million to unofficial estimates of more than 50 million. Girls and women make up a significant majority of domestic workers. It is a highly demanding work; however, they are usually treated with little or no respect, both by who they work for and at home. They don’t receive the recognition they deserve neither do they receive fair pay. These women work for extremely long hours in many houses, making the lives of many a lot easier, but they still face problems in their everyday life and hurdles at every juncture. They deal with issues like hazardous working and living conditions, long working hours, absence of safety, financial instability, bad or inadequate facilities and more often than not, violence at the hands of their owners.
One problem they face is lack of job security. At any given point they can be removed from their jobs as there is no legal work contract. This poses a huge problem as this work is one of their only sources of income. Since many of these women come from impoverished families, they are forced to work menial jobs to provide whatever little they can for their families. As they are often illiterate, there are very few other options available to them.Hence it makes its difficult for these women to educate their children, the it turns into an endless cycle of illiteracy. Many times, the money they earn is not enough to sustain their day to day expenditure which leads to borrowing. According to an article in the news daily, the Times of India, an average maid is paid only Rs 3000-5000 per month. Lenders charge exorbitant rates of interest which is practically impossible to pay, hence sinking them further into debt, making their position even more desperate. Tamil Nadu was one of the first states to come up with a minimum wage provision for all domestic helpers.
One of the sad things I learnt about the plight of the domestic help is that their husbands are violent, abusive and almost always inebriated. They refuse to work a steady job to provide for their families and demand that their wives, who work day and night to earn money, silently hand over their salaries. They use the money meant for household expenditures to buy spirits and alcohol to fuel their addiction. The women often receive rains of blows upon refusal to surrender the money. The injuries inflicted often go untreated and unpunished.
Has anyone given a thought to the children of the women who take care of children of other families? While some of the fortunate ones do get to go to school, many are forced to go to work with their parents. In many families, where there are both male and female offspring, the girl’s education is sacrificed and the boys are sent to school instead. Girls are taught to do chores and are sent to work in houses as soon as they are able. When it comes to the children who are too young for school, since their parents can’t afford day-care facilities, these kids often spend the entire day alone, barely knowing how to take care of themselves.
Recently, at Helphen India we heard the plight of a mother who feeds hundreds of students in hostel mess everyday is not able to afford education of her child studying in 6th standard in a private school.
It is said that a pen , book, teacher and a student can change the world.Education is the only solution, we can use to change the world.
So let’s take a pledge to help these deserving children, for their brighter future and make a difference, it starts with you.