Connecting local responses around the world
Background- We have been using community life competence process to develop self assessment framework for domestic workers on decent working conditions. This is in Delhi under an ILO partnership with Institute of Social Studies Trust. In CLCP, after the communities develop a common dream, we facilitate self assessment ie where they are in terms of their dreams and where they want to go. Similarly, under this project in a workshop about 20-25 domestic workers did their self-assessment and then selected two priority practices on which they would take action in the coming three months.
Thereafter, we proceeded on SALT visits to homes of the domestic workers in Tigri area of Delhi on 21st the July 2015. We were to go deeper into the practices of the dreams. . We were to explore the practice – we get family and community support for our work. In the workshop the domestic workers had rated themselves at level 3 –that they sometimes get support.
Home visit Babli a domestic worker who had attended the workshop took me to a home of a domestic worker. She was an older woman who had been working in homes of people for last 40 years. Then her daughter-in-law who lives in the adjoining home joined us. She was in her late 20s. Can I also join you, said another lady whose home we had visited last time. She was Babli’s sister, Sunita, in her early 40s and seemed to have a bond with us as she was meeting us for the second timeHere was our opportunity to learned from three different generations. Said the oldest lady- how we women can get support from men. It is double burden for us managing our home and outside. I could not dare utter a word to my husband. When I hear my daughter-in-laws talk back to my sons I feel good.
The youngest woman immediately jumped in. She said that whenever she speaks anything to her husband there is a big fight. I have now learned to be quiet. I don’t have any children. My husband tells me not to work but I work because I like good food and clothes. I also like to visit the beauty parlour. He will not give me a penny for what I like. So I take in his sarcastic comments. Take for instance today. I came back early from work as the work was less in the homes I work in. He taunted that today as I was not in a mood to roam around so had come home early. If he spoke nicely then I could focus better on my work. Who values my work!
Sunita said she wanted to share her sad story that going to work had ruined her peace of mind. Her husband who had earlier urged her to start working, cooperated with her initially. Even supported her in looking after the children when she went to work. However, after a few months, he felt that he could live off the earnings of his wife. He jumps from job to job, often sits at home. Whatever he earns he spends on alcohol. Domestic fights are common. Last night he came home drunk, we had a fight and in the morning he abused me. I did not go to work. How could anyone go with this frame of mind. One of my employers called up and I spoke to her very badly. Now I know I have lost my job. Constant tension at home affects my work.
Conclusion While domestic workers in the workshop had stated that they sometimes got support from their family and community. However, the intimate home settings brought in deeper and open discussion. I am sure if we had asked these women at home to do their self assessment it would not have been more than 1 (which is they are aware of the issue but don’t know how to address it)
Home visits also gave us the glimpse of what is happening in the community. Alcohol is freely available all around and we saw half- drunk men with bottles of alcohol in early evening roaming around. During our home visit, all the three women stressed that this was one of the biggest problems in the area. Men spend most of their earnings on alcohol and which often forces their wives to take up poorly paid domestic work jobs.
Photos above: one is of domestic workers doing self assessment in the workshop and second is of the domestic workers who after the home visit came to see us off. When are you coming again they asked us and we know we have to accompany them in this journey.