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Bindi Bottoms
Padma Domestic Helper, Pune

"The last three generations of my family, including me, have been working as domestic helpers but I want my daughters to study further and get out of this loop. It is very difficult to slog 24x7 without any break.

People expect their housemaids to work every day. They think we don’t need rest or a day to spend with our families. Don’t we deserve a break during the week just like our employers do? Forget Sundays, even a week day off is also not a common practice. We have no option but to bunk when we have health or family issues. When we return to work, we get to hear all sorts of things from our employers. There are some who are understanding, but they are the exceptions.

Last month, I needed 10 days off and it cost me my job. The person who replaced me agreed to work only if my employers hired her full time. They had no option but to fire me. However, when another househelper needed to go to her village for 15 days, I did her job without demanding a permanent position. I knew she is the only breadwinner in her family. The employers were in dire need of domestic help and it would have been immoral to take advantage of the situation. But how many of us think like this?

In our country where labour is cheap and easily available, the value of the services we perform is very little. Our sector is not organised so both employees and employers only think about their immediate benefit and forget common human consideration. We ‘bais’ shouldn’t step on each other’s toes to get work, but help each other. All of us have families and errands to run. Everyone needs to take a break from work. Once we organise our demands, even the employers will be willing to adjust.”


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