Insensitivity..

and double standards..

One of the things that struck me, here, in India was the lack of sensitivity towards domestic help.

A few weeks back, my domestic help(DH) came to my door in tears. At one of the places that she works at, the lady refused to pay her the her full payment. She started the job after agreeing on a particular amount, and at the end of the month, the lady gave her 1/3rd of the amount she owed her. DH did not know what to do, she came to me in tears. I was at a loss too. I couldn’t imagine this sort of a scenario. Finally, she went back there when the husband was home and demanded her money. At that point they gave her some more and said that ‘they did not have enough money to pay her’, and would pay her in a few days. Finally they did pay her, after a few days, when she kept reminding them.

The whole drama left a bad taste in my mouth. I cannot understand well-to-do people trying to save money by not paying their domestic help. How can they even think of doing that. This lady has worked hard the whole month, only to have to fight for what is rightfully hers at the end of the month. Would we be happy if our workplaces told us that they did not have enough money to pay us? And if you can’t afford domestic help, don’t get them. But if you do, you have to pay for their services, right? It’s beyond me. What they stood to gain by not giving a poor woman her due. Saved some interest in the bank, I suppose.

In the same way, she was ill the other day. She called to let me know, so I asked her to rest. The next day, she came in looking very ill – eyes red, and clearly ill. I was shocked and asked to her to go home and rest, and not bother about doing my house. She still couldn’t go home and rest because the other places that she worked at, all wanted her to finish their work. So what if she were ill.

It really feels inhumane to me. How easily the privileges we would demand from our employers, we refuse to give to those we employ..

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34 thoughts on “Insensitivity..

  1. Reminds me of my MILs behavior. Though she is a good soul but there are times when she becomes insenstive towards maids. Liek when my maid gives XYZ reason for her absence my MIL will immediately say she is lying. I know that most of the maids have created such an impression that they lie but as a human being I first believe what they are saying and of things point towards completely different angle then only I question my trust.

    I like to think that they are honest, until proven otherwise too.

    I always go by the logic that when I am working I get Sundays off and when I ask for leaves I get them so why deny my maid from such simple pleasures? My only condition is that maid should tell me in advance. But yes the incident that u have quoted are quite common here in India. I guess it comes from the mentality that we squeeze out money & work from people who are below us and are not in a position to question our actions because they are needy, On a larger scale the govt is doing it to common man and common man is taking it out on anybody who is below them…..

    True. But you know, the people in question are extremely wll off – surely, someone in that position should not treat a domestic help in this way, right?

    Sad state of affairs!

    I know ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  2. that is really sad.. in fact my MIL insist me in giving full salary whether she takes leave or we give her leave( when we are out of station). my mom is another person who pays 3 months salary when my mom is on vacation, even if the maid doesnt work. my mom says that she will have her own commitments, so why give her pressure. so, its only me who question and thinks if the maid’s reasoning is a lie?
    but agreeing to an amount and not paying is really bad.. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  3. My mom considers our DH more important than me, at times! She gets hot ginger chai, while I have re-heated ones. Her logic if you go off elsewhere, I can manage. Without her, my house will be mess ๐Ÿ™‚ A few days back, someone had asked on a facebook group for a store to buy sarees for maids. I was appalled, to say least. Very sad attitude.

    • @Arch

      My mom considers our mom more important than me at some times too. Gah! ๐Ÿ™‚ I call our maid my mom’s first daughter. ๐Ÿ˜› She is the first to get hot food off the stove at our place, rest and pampering when she is ill, and money when she doesn’t want to walk back home. ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. True. However there are stories of maids who have cheated people of their money. One of my relatives paid a maid 40k to take care of their child and not abandon them mid-sea. Which is exactly what she did, after taking the money. There are all kinds of people. But paying a person their due is the right way to go. Don’t give them more or less, but exactly what you agreed on. Like you said, they too have problems and reasons like us not to go to work.

  5. That’s really sad ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    But I have seen many people around who look after their helpers very well too, so would not generalize on that.
    My aunt even takes her helper on vacations most times. And no, it is not to look after her kids – they are in highschool and college already ๐Ÿ™‚ And that is the reason she has stuck to her from when the college boy was just born ๐Ÿ™‚ It is such a personal connection that u start building with them.

    Reminds me of the book ‘Space between us’ ๐Ÿ˜

    • Oh no, I wasn’t generalizing. I’ve grown up seeing my parents and others in my family treat domestic help well and with dignity. Somehow, here, I get the feeling that there is some respect missing. Again, not everybody, but from the look of it, few definitely do. Which makes it sad.

      • Eeeks I left a long comment here and it is gone ๐Ÿ˜›

        Err anyway. Sorry if I did not sound the way I intended to. Ofcos I know u are the last person to generalize on such matters ๐Ÿ™‚

        U know what? Aunty was telling me when she was here as to how some people used to treat her when she would be with them to help with the post-delivery care. Some people think they can boss over anybody whom they give some money from their pockets ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I think her contribution is more. I mean one can pay, but her help and support at such needy times is so much beyond money. They don’t try to build a bond with people who are helping them at all, which is really really sad ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

        • And I am so with u .. I think the same too – how would it feel if they would be treated like that at their workplace? People end up complaining for such little things.

        • Absolutely! How can they forget that Aunty is doing more than just a job. As you say, its the connection that matters. My domestic help brings me cuttings of plants, seeds from her garden as thanks. It touches me so much because she does all this without me asking for anything, just because she sees how much I enjoy gardening. It’s the bond that matters. And as they say, you get what you give. After all what do we lose if we treat them with the respect that they deserve.

  6. Reminds me of the last place I stayed in before moving in with hubby. I was sharing the house with a few other kids. The same maid was coming to the place hubby and I moved into, since she knew me, and my house was close by. She would relate tales about how she had to literally nag the girls to pay her salary. This would happen almost every single month.
    How would these girls like it if their company paid them 15 days into the next month?

  7. I’ve seen it happen so often here too! With my colleagues, who take their DH for granted, and dont pay them when they should! They keep putting it off saying that it would not do to give in so easily! It’s so very inhuman!

  8. Sick attitude.. I have seen mom treating maids so well that once they come under her they will never leave her. Even the maids offspring becomes friends with Amma. We are also taught to handle maids the same way. But, I have seen these attitudes around where people always think they have the authority to question the low class. Aren’t they humans? Can this lady say she doesn’t have enough money when she buys a costly dress or ornament? The authority is always shown to inferior people. Before showing the power close your eyes and think for a second. Would you react the same way if the opponent is of same or higher category as you? Hope people change their attitude…

  9. Like any other profession, there are good ones and bad ones, the difference is some idiots do get away with not paying for a service that they enjoyed.
    I have had generally good experiences with most except for the last one, terrible is not the word to describe it

  10. People are pathetic sometimes. There are also people who will get extra work done from the DH just because they can and not pay her for that. Most of the times these DH are powerless to do anything. In many places they also face sexual harassment but cannot do anything.

    Indians do not have any respect for people who do manual work. It is considered sub par and such people get treated like dirt.

  11. If my maid bunks for a day means no meals cooked in my kitchen,I am so dependent on her.She was me to keep sunday’s off ,I was not comfortable with it,coz I want vegetables to be chopped for Monday morning…So instead I asked her to keep saturday off and she is completly ok with it.
    They too are human beings and need rest and look after their family just as we do.

  12. A well-off lady not ready to pay her maid – now that is really bad. Can’t imagine why she would want to do that. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ That is so very inhumane!

    Maybe she really was hard-pressed for money?

    And asking a maid to do her work even when she is sick is such a sad thing. I make sure I do not give my maid undue stress when she is not well. I feel sad too when I see people literally draining out every last bit of blood from a maid’s body. It is so so inhumane!

    You are so right in thinking what would happen if our workplaces too treated us like we treat maids. I am sure we wouldn’t take it even for a day!

  13. That is pathetic, but disappointingly very common in India. I pay daily. In Kerala, I have noticed that there is more dignity and pay at least in some areas. Where maids have stayed on at a single place for a long time, wages stay low and they do not know enough to leave and find a new job with better prospects.

    • Kerala is definitely better in that sense, Lakshmi. Probably, because even the workers are more aware of their rights. So they can stand up for themselves. It’s sad to see how easily people try and take advantage of others – when they can.

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