Indian Women Discussing On Whether Or Not To Allow Maids During LockdownTop Stories

May 08, 2020 19:56
Indian Women Discussing On Whether Or Not To Allow Maids During Lockdown

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Most of the middle-class women in India are debating over a question on whether to let their domestic helpers in their homes or not with the lockdown extended.

In India, women rely on domestic helpers to do their work at home. More than four million people are employed as domestic helpers, according to official estimates. However, unofficial estimates say that more than 50 million women are working as domestic helpers.

Over 6 weeks, women at home have managed without maids, cooks, nannies, nurses, drivers and gardeners because of the COVID-19 lockdown. Earlier, everyone thought that it would go on for only three weeks. However, now it has been extended.

Over Instagram you will find videos and pictures of Bollywood stars, cooking, cleaning and doing the dish wash.

Extension of the lockdown has made it difficult for middle class homes and elderly people who are sick in India to manage all the household chores by themselves.

On the other hand, even domestic helpers are stressed with no choice but to get back to work. An online platform that links domestic workers with employers, Meenakshi Gupta Jain, told the BBC, "Many have lost their jobs and many others say they are not being paid salaries for the lockdown period,"

The agency has been receiving 10 to 15 messages daily from maids, drivers and cooks seeking help.

"They say they have run out of money. What do we do? How do we feed our children? We guide them to local charities in their area who can help them get some free ration or cooking gas," Ms Gupta Jain says.

Sonika Verma, a domestic helper in Delhi who resumed work on Monday, says she counts herself as lucky since her employers have paid her salary for the lockdown period.

"I was very tense all these weeks. My husband drives an auto-rickshaw, but he's been sitting at home because autos are not allowed to ply. I also couldn't go to work and I was afraid what would we do if I lost my job too," she said. Her sisters, she says, have not been paid for the lockdown period.

"Their employers paid them for the number of days they had worked in March and didn't pay anything for April. They also said they would pay only once they resume work, but they haven't called them back to work yet,"

The reason her sisters have not been called back to work yet is because there is a discussion in societies about whether or not to allow domestic helpers to come into people’s home.

According to Ms Gupta Jain says, “When refuse collectors and vegetable vendors are allowed to come in, why are maids and drivers being penalised?

"You give them masks and hand sanitisers and a set of clothing that they can wear when in your home. You take all the precautions. But it's time to let them back in."

By Neha Makhija

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