Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Fight for Domestic Workers' Rights

There is a remarkable distinction between modern, liberated, and independent women providing for their families and thus becoming too busy to engage in the time-consuming and tedious work of housecleaning and childcare and the women doing the housecleaning/childcare so they can be able to financially support their own families.

When thinking about mistreatment of female domestic workers, the two most common issues that come to mind are underpayments and longs hours (What’s that? Paid vacation? You’ve got to be kidding me!). Maltreatment could also be achieved in the form of the employers’ control over aspects of a person that many consider personal choice, such as what clothes to wear, what hairstyle, what makeup to use, when to take a shower, etc. As a result, it is reasonable to assume that the work itself is not degrading, but the loss of independence and responsibility that come with it in the majority of cases make it such.

 It is striking to me that so many women from disadvantaged nations have to accept the opportunity to work in a developed country as the only possible way to financially support their families. By becoming housecleaners and care takers in foreign lands, these women seemingly manage to contribute to those they left behind. At the same time, however, the same work that provides for their families also separates them from the ones they care most about. Ultimately, it seems they realize that the biggest sacrifice they made for their children is not to work jobs not many others would not do, but to leave both their children and their nation in order to work those jobs.

One does not need to be Sherlock Holmes to find out that there is such a beast as modern-day slavery. However, I am pretty sure there are many who have never truly imagined the actual magnitude of the problem (I sure used to be one of those people). Most of these women even possess education and skills that should, in a fair and just world, provide them with better work conditions. The problem is not the type of work they have; the problem is the insufficient amount of money they make and the lack of any labor rights that will protect them from potential abuse.

I am glad that there are women, such as Christine Yvette Lewis (Domestic Workers United), who are quite persistent in the fight for labor rights among those who would otherwise remain hidden.

- K

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this!! I have heard many horrible stories and have a very close relative that was mistreated and veryyy underpaid. Yes!! thank you Ms. Lewis for standing up for those that are vulnerable and victims not only of their "bosses" but also of the situations that bring them to such working conditions.