Friday, September 6, 2013
A New Beginning for Domestic Workers
With millions of domestic workers worldwide, it is absolutely necessary to protect the many women and children that work in homes. Domestic workers do not have one specific job; they perform tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and taking care of children and elderly. Unlike other workers, domestic workers do not have explicit rights that protect them from many injustices. For example, many women and children are forced to work without breaks and without pay, and sometimes they are subject to abuse (both physical and sexual) and trafficking. Because of the many injustices to domestic workers, the Domestic Workers Convention was created to protect the workers. The treaty grants domestic workers the same rights as other workers, such as the right to days off, minimum wage, and limits on hours of work. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is encouraging all governments to ratify and enforce the new treaty.
Reading about domestic workers reminds me of this past summer when I was a nanny for a French family that lived in southwestern France. My experience working for a family was much different than described in this article, however, because I was treated like a member of the family. My job was not strenuous and I was able to enjoy every minute of cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the five children. I was very fortunate to have the experience I did, and I feel that my experience as a nanny helps me to understand just how devastating it is that these domestic workers have to work under such horrible conditions and how necessary it is for them to be treated fairly.
Although I knew that there are many, many people who work in homes, I was unaware of the numbers of domestic workers who are treated unfairly. Growing up, I saw movies and TV shows that portrayed jobs as nannies as fair and rewarding. With countless movies and TV shows, such as Maid in Manhattan and Nanny 911, that involve nannies and other in-home workers, I think modern media in America displays domestic jobs as only positive ones. It is important that children and adults alike understand that not all nannies and other house workers are treated the way they are in movies and on television. It is sad for me to think about women and children being forced to work for a family with little pay and hardly any breaks, and I cannot imagine people employing a domestic worker and treating him or her as if he or she was not a human. As upset as it makes me to learn of the many injustices to domestic workers, it is uplifting to see that a treaty has been made and eight countries have already ratified it and are taking the steps necessary to implement it. I hope that this treaty changes the lives of domestic workers and allows them to feel at peace and hopeful.