Paper on the Experience of Migrant Domestic Workers

Paper on the Experience of Migrant Domestic Workers

The migration is a very old phenomenon. In the last years there is a new tendency: female migration. The number of women who have decided to migrate has increased. The lack of job opportunities, poverty, war and conflict push women to migrate. In the areas of destination, industrialization, a lack of local labour for domestic work, the increase of the number of married women who work increases the demand for domestic workers. It is widespread the idea that care-giving is a woman’s responsibility.

For the women who live in rich nations, the entry in labour market represents a form of emancipation. For the women who live in poor nations the domestic work is a form of better recognition in their societies. So, the emancipation of migrant workers is linked to a experience of exploitation.
My paper focuses on a specific aspect of female migration: migrant domestic workers.

Domestic work: experience of exploitation and abuse
Domestic work is often linked to exploitation and abuse. This is possible because domestic work takes place in private households. Migrant domestic workers are isolated from other employees, friends or family. Many migrant workers don’t know the employer’s languages and conditions of employment.
Many domestic workers work for more than 12 hours a day. They, in many cases, sleep on the floor with no privacy. Others sleep with other family members because they must assist them. And only one third have a private room.

The quality of meals is determined by the employers, and in some cases the domestic workers must buy with their own money adequate food.
The freedom of movement and communication is limited. Domestic workers have many responsibilities and so they have got little free time. Many domestic workers do not have permission to leave the house to meet others, or receive visitors into the house. An important limit to domestic workers’ freedom of movement is the fear of arrest or deportation.

Possession of legal identification
In domestic work is very widespread the employment of migrants in conditions of secret ness. This is linked to many factors:
•heaviness of labour conditions
•forced cohabitation with the employers
•impossibility to employ regular staff from the families because of the economic conditions
•the problem of habitation and controls is solved through the cohabitation with the employers
The irregular immigrants are, in this way, in a continuous situation of blackmail from the employers and are obliged to accept also employment conditions of exploitation and abuse.

Earnings: sign of love
The earnings of female migrants can help their families to surpass the conditions of poverty. The money that arrives in native countries is used for daily consumption, health care or education. They hope to give to their children a better life and education.
The women who send money to their home obtain greater autonomy and a new status in the household or community. They become able to assist their families like men.

The women who migrate, live a double process of recognition.
In native countries, they obtain greater autonomy and a new status in their society. They contribute to maintenance of their families like men and in these patriarchal societies they become “breadwinner” and so the consideration of women improves. In the countries of destination they live a process of disqualification..

In many cases, the domestic workers are women with a high education who accept poor works to improve life conditions of their families. The experience of migration diminishes their human qualities and the main employment for women migrants becomes the domestic work. This phenomenon reflects the new tendency “ to import care and love from poor countries to rich countries”.