Maria Suelzu, Caritas; Raffaella Maioni, Acli and Livia Turco, Fondazione Nilde Iotti
Round table to mark International Domestic Workers day
“For thousands of years until recently, domestic work was a form of slavery. In some parts of the world it still is,” said Armando Montemarano from the Italian domestic workers trade Union, Federcolf.
He was just one of the people contributing to a discussion held in Rome by Caritas along with Acli Colf (the Italian Christian workers association) and NoDi (the Italian association for the rights of women migrants) to mark International Domestic Workers day on Sunday 16th June.
The date was chosen because it marked the adoption of the International Labor Organisation’s ‘Convention 189’ in 2011, which set labour standards for domestic workers around the world. These included the right to time off, the minimum wage and protection from abuses.
Caritas campaigned hard to get the convention approved and ensure the rights of domestic workers were respected. The very nature of domestic work – behind closed doors and hidden from view – means that the terrain is rife for abuses and protective measures are minimal. Continue reading
Twenty-four-year old Damber Kumari Gurung had left her village in Nepal for Saudi Arabia to work as a maid. Now she is back in Nepal after suffering abuse. Photo by Katie Orlinsky/Caritas 2012
By Laura Sheahen,
“When I got home, my family saw my condition and cried.”
Twenty-four-year old Damber Kumari Gurung had left her village in Nepal for Saudi Arabia to work as a maid. More than a year later, she came back covered with bruises.
She’d worked long hours in a private Saudi home, getting about four hours of sleep each night as she struggled to keep up with the cooking, cleaning and washing. The family she worked for rarely paid her, and when she asked for her salary, they sent her back to the employment agents in Riyadh.
She can’t say exactly what happened next. She remembers fighting back when they tried to strip her, and ripping one of the agent’s shirts. When she arrived at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, she was black and blue. “I was crying bitterly. People surrounded me,” she says.
A woman at the airport asked if she needed help. Though afraid the woman might exploit her as well, Damber Kumari went with her. It turned out that the woman worked for Porukhi, an organisation that helps migrant women. Learning that the girl was from an area of eastern Nepal called Damak, Porukhi called Caritas.