My Friday mornings are interesting, I wake up at the time that I wake up, no strings attached, no alarms, and I may or may not have anything to do. I read the paper if it is delivered, if it doesn’t, I just do chores that are pending forever. Kids will be sleeping still (not kids any more, to me they are no matter how old they are), husband goes to the office, or is travelling, and I have my breakfast on the kitchen table, talking to my housekeeper. She is an interesting person from Indonesia, speaks perfect Arabic except for the colours, to her green is blue and blue is green, no matter how many times I correct her, and prove it to her in dictionaries, she thinks that I am making fun of her. Anyway, today the discussion was about her experiences as a worker in other houses and what happened to her and her friends the other housekeepers at airports and maids agencies offices both in her home country and when she arrives. Apparently the first thing they do is to check her belongings, tear out every picture that she was carrying, any address books, and take away her money, face creams, eyeliners, and perfumes. They also hit her on the face, and beat her if she utters a word. Not to forget that they charge her the earth, so she literally works for free for the first six months to repay the loans that she had taken in order to work overseas.
A different story happens when she arrives at her employer’s homes, the first thing is the room she is placed in, no windows, and no AC, no TV, no bathroom, just three walls and a door: some give her a mattress and some do not. The father of the house will try his luck with her, as he ( in most houses that she had worked in) is not satisfied with the wife only, she says that in one of the houses the father of the house was young, well younger than her, so when he was trying to hit on her, she told him that she is older than him, and that she had done an operation to close off the area (cunning woman) and that was the only way she was spared. Her friends (the other housekeepers) were not able to escape this ordeal, so they endured it, as if we brought them to satisfy our every need, and that too by paying them such a low salary.
She says that at the agencies in country, the owners enjoy hitting the maids, so they put them in a room, and test their self endurance, and if they pass the test, then only they are delivered to the houses. So she was slapped on the face, and beaten on the back with sticks and sometimes tortured by tearing her only son’s photograph in front of her. She says that she has no memory of the son, what a life?
The reason I am writing this is to awake every sense that we may have, to see if the people that keep our homes, and cook our food are well looked after. At the end of the day, they can hold a grudge and do something to us in retaliation, dont you think? Also have we brought them as white slaves? We merely have them so every one of us continue to work and fulfil that need that we have, or pursue the careers that we aspire to, so they are the catalysts, not the victims. We also need to look after the husbands, as he may feel a sexual need that only the maid can satisfy??? I am too old, dont look at me, look at yourselves, the young ones, and work on your relationships; but if your man is a womaniser find out early by putting a camera in the maids room or in every room, test him and try to be as nice as possible so he doesn’t look elsewhere, make him feel that you are the only one in this world that is worth the sex, not the housemaid, not the girl that he will bring to the house (this is another story that she told me, apparently the father of the previous family sends the wife to her parents house for the day, and brings other girls to the house, he tells her to prepare food and shuts her mouth!) of course this is a difficult thing to do, but you must do it young girl, or better still do not bring a maid to the house, do the work yourself, and insist that he helps, that actual y may reduce his sexual desires to the lowest level that it only requires one woman to play with, and hopefully that woman is you.
Women empowerment is something that we all must work on, and that doesn’t stop at friends, sisters, colleagues, it should also extend to workers and house staff. We must give every woman the respect the she deserves, and reject the idea that a certain woman is not worth it. Women are worth it as they are the mums of future presidents, kings and sheikhs, they must be taught well, treated well, fed well and above all they must be respected.
I am sure you know what my next project is? Start a housekeeper agency.
you made me Smile Suad, i am glad you spoke about this subject, as maids are really the modern slaves unfortunately, and people needs lots of awareness.
do you think it is Outrageous