Our rent payment includes a “maid”- she has cleaned our space every day, washed dishes, did laundry and ran errands. Jesse is likely a low caste woman, although I didn’t ask. She is paid about $20 per month for several hours of work six days a week. She is missing an eye; she had an infection as a child, she says, and she didn’t get medical care until it had to be removed. She is a devout Catholic. Her father was a fisherman. Husband is a driver and he drinks- but fortunately he doesn’t beat her. Jesse is a cheerful, resilient woman and is grateful to have work. She is treated with respect by her employer and has been working here for many years.
She mentioned the other day that the sight in her one eye had changed and she couldn’t read very well, so we helped her pay for bifocal glasses- she was very pleased!
Millions of women across the globe work as domestic workers- unorganized, often separated by oceans form their families, low paid, and often abused. In India it’s very common for even lower-income families to employ workers, and with India’s growing middle class and wealth, women can often find work as domestic servants. Many are treated humanely but typically are paid low wages and work long hours. May women some day all have the right to receive good wages, have autonomy, and care for their families with dignity and joy.