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Maid In India by Tripti Lahiri shines a bright light on the murky world of the live in maid, and the abuse by employers that is common.
Maids are as great a boon as much the bane for most of us. A good neat and clean maid who does all chores as directed is a dream and those of us who are lucky enough to find such gems usually try to keep them happy. But a day off and all comes undone with piles of utensils at kitchen sink and dust on the floor.
I have always had maids who finish work in few hours in morning and return for the second round at evening. I prefer not to have a maid all the time at home so that my privacy is not compromised. And at the risk of being labelled a snob, I would still say that my home has been much better organised and cleaner even when I was on a 9 to 5 job with a part time maid, than those with an in-house maid. But then I have handled a few chores myself. Also a maid who is separated from her family and stays all time with the employer seems to me a huge responsibility.
I have friends in Delhi who hire maids from the agency on a yearly contract at a pay packet which seems a little too much to me. These maids cook, clean, wash, dust and take care of the kids while the husband and wife are away on their jobs.
Maid in India is a book which looks into these in-house maids who travel to the promised land of Delhi in hope to make enough to send it back home. Written by Tripti Lahiri, Asia editor of Quartz and winner of Society of Professional Journalist award for reporting on Bangladesh’s dangerous factories and Ramnath Goenka award for civic journalism, the book is well researched on the life of domestic helps.
As I read on, I was appalled at the stories that emerged of the ill treatment meted out to the domestic helps. I wouldn’t say that I have never scolded my maids, of course I have, I have even cut their pay if they have been absent for more than a week without informing me – but physical abuse? This was news to me as I turned pages of the various accounts.
The various subdivisions of the book give an insight into the difficult circumstances which force the women and young girls from far flung places to head towards the capital city in search of work, sometimes on false promises. The book brings to light how some families cheat these women of their rightful pay or prevent them from meeting their family members or threaten them. Some of these poor women vanish from the face of earth with no possibility of being traced or rescued.
The author having researched extensively laments that though certain clauses exist regarding pay, working hours and short breaks in the contract while hiring the maids, most are disregarded even in posh localities where employers can afford to pay, but choose to squeeze out as much work.
The situation is not all grim with a few employers being very considerate of the welfare of their domestic helps and going out of way to involve them in family. But some of these maids have learnt to take care of their interests and move on to work with expatriates where they earn more for lesser working hours. Eventually it is the aim of every person to better their life and some domestic helps have managed to improve their lifestyle.
The book brings out the harsh reality that exists in every urban household. There have been instances of maids duping the employers, stealing, and even falsely incriminating the employer for sexual abuse but there are fewer such cases.
The need of the day is that the employer behave humanely…after all it is the right thing to do as humans. No one has the right to physically, mentally or sexually abuse another human being even if we pay them for services.
This book is a must read for an eye opening revelation and improve our relationships with our house helps.
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Cover image source: amazon
Image source: pixabay
I graduated as an architect and after working for three years decided to be a homemaker and bring up my daughter. I love to travel, read history, paint and now I maitain two blogs http:// read more...
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I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
Why is the Social Media trend of young mothers of boys captioning their parenting video “Dear future Daughter-in-Law, you are welcome” deeply problematic and disturbing to me as a young mother of a girl?
I have recently come across a trend on social media started by young mothers of boys who share videos where they teach their sons to be sensitive and understanding and also make them actively participate in household chores.
However, the problematic part of this trend is that such reels or videos are almost always captioned, “To my future daughter-in-law, you are welcome.” I know your intentions are positive, but I would like to point out how you are failing the very purpose you wanted to accomplish by captioning the videos like this.
I know you are hurt—perhaps by a domestic household that lacks empathy, by a partner who either is emotionally unavailable, is a man-child adding to your burden of parenting instead of sharing it, or who is simply backed by overprotective and abusive in-laws who do not understand the tiring journey of a working woman left without any rest as doing the household chores timely is her responsibility only.
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