An image doing the rounds of a housemaid tucked in a little corner as others celebrate a birthday has captured great interest, leading to the raising of several questions regarding the inhumane treatment of Zimbabwean housemaids.
In an image captured there is no due attention given to a housemaid whose face tells a story of abuse and misery. There is no attention whatsoever given towards the maid who is captured sitting on the floor while her employer and her two sons are having the time of their life and focused on cutting a birthday cake. In the midst of the debate there have however been suggestions the image may have been photoshopped so as to depict a malicious image of the family in question.
The image has stirred widespread reactions from the Zimbabwean public with many castigating the treatment that housemaids often receive from their employers. To add to the aspect of poor working conditions housemaids are often subjected to poor remuneration given the failure by authorities to ensure domestic workers receive stipulated minimum wages.
Housemaids often work for long hours with several handed with just a single day off duty as rest for a long weeks work.
Domestic workers, the vast majority of whom are women and girls, make a critical contribution to societies and economies across the world. Despite their critical contribution to households domestic work is typically not regarded as work and is often excluded from full protection under labour legislation and social security provisions.
There are often no clear terms of employment for housemaids, leaving workers vulnerable to abuse with employment conditions often unbearable. It is however due to desperation and dire situations why domestic workers cling on to their jobs.
The International Labour Organisation has over the years called on member states f to effectively implement a historic convention, which seeks to improve the working conditions of millions of domestic workers worldwide. Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers was adopted at the ILO 100th session in Geneva, Switzerland, in June this year.