Recently, a reader sent in photograph (to a newspaper) caught my attention. It was a poster (in a hotel) advertising a special offer on a weekend brunch . The offer was such:
Adults – 259 net (including unlimited drinks)
Kids – 100 net ( special kids meal + including unlimited drinks)
Maid – 100 net (kids meal and drinks)
Of the few places that I have visited and lived; UAE is where I have seen domestic help so popular. In an average household with both the parents working, two school going kids and a fussy pet, there will always be an asian help (or known as ‘maid’) there.
So coming back to that photograph and its contents; gone are the days when humans were categorised as adults and kids, now it is adults, kids and maids (atleast in this part of the world).
Maids though are adults; according to the current standards (to the place I live) need to be fed less (compared to what a nine year old can eat), made to work hard for 16-17 hours a day (7 days a week), shelter them in a room with no windows (ideally smaller than a dog’s kennel) deny any possible medical help and pay them as little as you think is required!
Whenever there is news of domestic help exploitation, people are quick to react, ‘the government needs to do that, do this!’ I understand their point and but also appreciate the recent laws passed by the UAE government to protect them.
Even though it is a 22 year old indonesian (from a family of 14 members), or a 28 year old filipino (an unwed single mother), 35 year old indian (whose husband had got the family on debts and have kids going to school)- at the end all these stories end the same.
How many times have we seen the lady of the house walk free while a weaker looking girl follows her with hand full of bags; or the maid is let into the gym to operate the threadmill for her boss; or she sipping from a small can of orange juice and looking how the four year old ‘baba’ (kid) is force fed a packet of french fries; and she running behind her sponsor to get an extra 100 dirham note, at the airport while she is leaving to her home country.
Why do people forget that this girl, who is a couple of years elder to your own darling is also a human being, and the apple of eye of some mother somewhere? Why do some men (of the house) regard them the toy to satisfy their lust? How can you inflict pain on a human being who takes care of your child? How can you give her monthly a meagre amount that isnt even sufficient for your day’s shopping spree? And how can you expect her to keep working when you are at the spa relaxing because of your hectic week?
This treatment towards domestic help is not country specific or of recent in time. I have heard stories from my grandmother about how they (domestic helpers then) were fed; in a hole dug on the ground, a banana leaf on top of it and stale food on that.
It is our attitude towards them that needs the change. They are people who needs to be treated with love and dignity because they are doing something for your house that you cannt!!!