Friday, August 28, 2015

Prejudice and racism of employers towards migrant domestic workers II/III

While documenting racist behaviour towards MDWs ( migrant domestic workers), there was a striking contradiction in the attitude of the employers; on the one hand, they would ask the workers to perform most of the housework from caring for the children – including infants – cooking food, and washing and ironing clothes, to making coffee and juice and performing other household chores. On the other hand, they felt “repelled and disgusted” by the MDWs.
The majority of the domestic workers experienced blatant racism, a reflection of negative prejudices towards them and their treatment as inferiors. Most workers were prohibited from washing their clothes with the clothes of the employers. Some were assigned a different set of utensils to those used by the employers and their families. Some were even forbidden from sitting on the house furniture. Some of the workers resisted this racism in their own way, despite their limited means: 87 An interview with a Nepalese migrant worker in Lebanon conducted in Zikrit on April 9, 2013 88 An interview with a migrant worker after returning to Nepal conducted in Lamjung on May 15, 2013
“I was forbidden from sitting on their sofa, but I used to sit on their favourite sofa when they were out. They would only allow me to sit on a chair in the kitchen…I would also wash my stuff with their loaf, and wash my clothes with theirs when the Madame went to pray. When she asked me I would say I had hand washed them just as she’d wanted me to. I used to watch the Indian channel on TV and then switch it back to Arabic and turn TV off when she came in.

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