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The problems of domestic working

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Since it is informal work, there is no written contact for wages, increment, holiday, fixed working hours etc. They wake up before anyone else in the household and are the last to go to sleep. From the employer’s point of view and in existing social practice, this does not seem to be inhumane, but this domestic workers must always be prepared to undertake any chore, light or heavy, at any time of the day or night. (Rahman,1995). They get hired and fired on oral agreement. Female domestic workers generally belong to the poor strata of the society. Though, these women workers work hard to earn their livelihood but the returns for this hard work are shockingly low (Manohar and Shobha, 1983; and Kundu, 2007).

As per Shah, over 94 percent of the Indian workforce constitutes the informal economy. Women are a significant proportion of these workers. They work from dawn to dusk. Apart from little or no work security, they hardly have any social security. This means that they have no sick leave, no health or accident insurance, no maternity benefits nor child care. And in their old age, they have neither pension nor provident fund (2013 cited in Mbugua 2014).

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Not only in India, these words are true for Bangladesh as well. A large number of female domestic workers constitute informal sector of Bangladesh. Still they are excluded from formal workforce. Low pay in the domestic work sector is also linked to the perception of domestic work as being “unproductive” because it does not directly generate economic gains or profits for the households employing them. Many domestic workers have a low level of individual and collective bargaining power, which leaves Most female workers have a tendency to migrate from rural to urban areas of Dhaka for changing their socio-economic condition. These women migrants end up either as regular domestic workers or as part-time helping hands. Hope for having a better life works as a vital reason behind their frequent migration. They are even illiterate or have a little education which does not benefit them to a great extent. Even though they constitute a great number of workers, they are not included in formal workforce. Thus there is no union, no fixed working hours, no fixed salary and no bargaining power. In Bangladesh, child domestic workers spend on average 1 hours or more working each day, seven days a week, and are generally on-call day and night (End Domestic Child Labour 2015) They are even excluded from existing labour law. The practice of giving termination notice in advance is not in practice in unorganized sector, so in the field of domestic work the employer can easily terminate the female domestic worker anytime.

Exclusion from labour law puts them in a more vulnerable condition. there is no direct law for protecting domestic workers, they are prone to be affected by workplace violence including physical, sexual, psychological torture. According to statistics of Ain O Salish Kendra(ASK) which was conducted in 2017, 19 workers died due to physical torture by employers. In 2018 from January-March, 3workers died and 2 committed suicide due to physical torture by the employer. (ASK 2018).

Not only in workplace, these women can face oppression and exploitation in their own household also. Even though their contribution to family income helps to reduce poverty, they may face unequal treatment compared to the male members of the family. In our patriarchal social system men are the decision maker, they have control over resources. So the usage of domestic workers income mostly depends on their husbands or on male members of the family. Refusal to spending money on husband’s wishes may result in violence. This scenario is not same in every household. There are exceptions. Female headed households represent opposite scene to above mentioned situation.

According to J. M. Ramirez-Machado, Domestic workers in any country form a marginalized and highly vulnerable group – this is especially so in Bangladesh. (2003,cited in Ahmed 2009) Most domestic workers work for several employers depending on their necessity of money. Martha A. (2011) showed some characteristics of domestic workers such as they may work full-time for one employer or part-time for one or more employers. Some perform only a single task or service for their employers, while others perform multiple tasks or services. In many cases, the employment relationship is informal – that is, unregulated and unprotected due to the preference of the employer, the domestic worker or both.

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