Can live with ‘em. Can’t live without ‘em. Domestic maids. I love them so much. And for good reason too: I haven’t so much as washed or ironed a shirt in the last ten years, swept the floor or even cooked a meal. Call me a lazy bugger if you like, but at least I provide work for two young village girls, one aged 16 the other 18.
So looking through the latest news items on the Guardian website, I was most displeased to come across an article heavily critical of the employment conditions of young maids in Indonesia.
John Aglionby writes:
Hundreds of thousands of Indonesian girls working as domestic maids are being abused and treated as slaves because the government is showing no will to implement the laws it has passed to protect them, the international organisation Human Rights Watch said yesterday.
Girls as young as 11 are enduring working days of up to 18 hours, no or paltry pay, no statutory rights, no days off, trafficking, beatings, sexual abuse, denial of education and no private space, the group alleges in a 74-page report.
"We hear a lot about kids stitching soccer balls in Pakistan, but the conditions here are often worse," Sahr MuhammedAlly, the author of Always on Call: Abuse and Exploitation of Child Domestic Workers, told the Guardian.
"The difference is that this is hidden, because it is individuals behind closed doors in private homes who have no means of complaining."
Domestic maids are one of the few groups excluded from the manpower act which regulates workers' rights such as hours, pay and conditions.
The government claims it is impossible to legislate on maids because they work in the privacy of people's homes and are usually given food and lodging and treated as family. Many, the report claims, are paid less than 300,000 rupiah (£17) a month, or about 4p an hour.
Slaves? What utter poppycock! The fact is domestic workers are far better off than those who choose to work in factories. Let’s look at some of the allegations point by point:
1 working days of up to 18 hours. True, but the maid doesn’t actually work anywhere near this number of hours of course. Our maids spend most of the afternoon watching TV and listening to music for example.
2 no or paltry pay. The wages are admittedly very low, but a maid is far better off than a factory worker. Don’t forget the maid has zero expenses. All food, toiletries etc are provided by her boss. She has no accommodation costs of course. As such, she can save 100 percent of her wages.
3.no days off. Not true. All maids go home for the Muslim Idul Fitri holidays.
4 sexual abuse. very rare one would hope. Besides, sexual abuse can occur anywhere including in factories for example.
5 denial of education. Well, maids work because their parents cannot afford to look after them and educate them. Deny them the opportunity to work as maids, and what would they do? Head down to Blok M and become a working girl no doubt.
6 no private space. Hahaha! Human Rights Watch make real fools of themselves on this one, demonstrating a lack of cultural awareness I think. Indonesians love to be with other people; they hate to be alone.
Conclusion? You can employ young maids without feeling guilty. Hey you! Get me a beer. Now!!!!!