Domestic helps seeking better pay, protection

Kathmandu, June 21

Though tens of thousands of people are employed as domestic helps across the country, there is no law to bring them under the ambit of organised sector. As a result, they continue to remain the most exploited and abused workers in the country.

Twenty-three-year-old Bindu (name changed), who originally hails from Sindhuli, has been working as a domestic help for five years.  Soon after her marriage, she came to Kathmandu along with her mother-in-law to work as domestic help.

“We came to the capital to earn our living as my husband’s income wasn’t enough to feed the family. I work in the morning while my mother-in-law works in the evening in the same house,” she shared, adding that they weren’t even given weekly off despite low pay.

Susmita KC (name changed), who arrived in Kathmandu when she was 14, shared that male members of the household, where she works, exploit her sexually. “We are paid low and never on time. On top of that, they give us stale food to eat,” she said.

“There were more than 200,000 domestic helps across the country in 2012. Of them, 90 per cent were women,” said Writu Bhatta, Office Incharge of the Swatantrata Abhiyan Nepal, an organisation working for the welfare of domestic helps. She added that the number might have increased fourfold by now.

“There is no such thing as a minimum wage for domestic helps. Most of them are paid as per the wish of the owner,” she said, adding that the government must formulate laws to ensure their protection and human rights.

“It is very important for the government to have the exact data of domestic helps across the country. The government should formulate laws to ensure their fundamental rights and protection,” said Pemba Lama, a CPN-UML lawmaker.