ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Our Domestic Chores

Labour in the Times of COVID-19

Our Domestic Chores

Poorly paid and with no employment benefits, female domestic workers are becoming the sole breadwinners of their families.

A round this time last year, Fatima, who does domestic work in our house, requested for a second loan. This was unusual. Following the first lockdown, her landlord had relaxed the rent payment, but now she had to pay. Her husband, who sometimes painted buildings, had not worked since April and was not paid for his work in March. The repair shop where her teenage son apprenticed had shut. Fatima had become the only earning member of the family, with four mouths to feed, plus a married daughter with a baby and expecting the second.

Suspecting that this might be the situation for most women like her, I checked with friends in other cities. They confirmed this—women working as domestic help were the sole breadwinners in many low-income households. Most were either asked, or chose, to work in only one house. They were scared to start work at new houses. Some quit, being frequently asked to undergo the expensive COVID-19 RT-PCR test. Some went back to their villages. Some had lost their jobs in this overwhelmingly troubling time, ridden with worries and uncertainties in their already precarious existence.

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Updated On : 12th Jun, 2021

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