Working as domestic maids is one of the main occupations of women worldwide and play an important role in the social life of the community.
Growth and industrialisation has changed the lifestyle of the people especially in the urban areas. Many women from the middle class now have taken up jobs to supplement their income. The domestic worker is an inevitable necessity for them.
Usually the maids are found working in multiple families to earn more and that hampers there quality of work. The domestic maid starts throwing tantrums once she secures her position in the house. ‘‘Reaching office late has become a daily habit as my maid works in other houses that pay her more as they have big families. I have tried to reason with her, but all my urges fall on deaf ears,’’ said Abha Sharma, a working mother.
‘‘Domestic help is an essential service and the dependency is for both the parties concerned. We need to have an appropriate nodal agency that will contain full information of these women who are a mammoth part of our labour force. Once a set of norms is set for both the parties there will be a reduced amount of trouble. A proposal should be put forward to the government to standardise this matter of concern which is a vital issue today,’’ said Sulata Deo, chairperson, State Social Welfare Board.
‘‘We work to supplement the family income, as our men desert the family for another woman or they are alcoholics. The main reason we work is poverty and a big family. We are forced to demand our rights as we also have to keep our hearth burning,’’ said Usha Majhi, a domestic help. Every woman has her own daily hassle and the lack of coordination exaggerate the problem more. ‘‘We have to pay cash as gifts on festivals and advance that they will repay at their convenience or tell us to cut some amount from their monthly wages. They may also quit the job without notice. We cannot give them used clothes but buy them new ones. If we have tea we offer them too. If they send their minor children to work we have to keep quiet. If they steal anything we cannot inquire. We cannot raise our voice but adjust to their whims and fancies,’’ said Sujata Mishra.
‘‘Initiating a proper agency is the need of an hour today with more and more entangled issues. Fortunately we have a very few cases of atrocities on domestic maids in Odisha but a proper agency will be able to streamline this undecided matter of concern. Both the parties are uniformly getting affected,’’ said Jyoti Panigrahi, Chairperson, State Women’s Commission.
The biggest problem facing domestic workers across the country is their non recognition as workers. Domestic workers don’t come under labour laws and they have no right to workers’ compensation, weekly holidays and minimum wages. It’s high time the civil society in alliance with the government found an ideal answer to this alarming subject.