Between Household Abuse and Employer Apathy, Domestic Workers Bear the Brunt of Lockdown -Deepanshu Mohan, Kensiya Kennedy, Mansi Singh and Shivani Agarwal

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published Published on Jul 24, 2020   modified Modified on Jul 25, 2020

-TheWire.in

The nature of their work has exposed female workers to a higher degree of abuse and exploitation in the absence of an underlying social or economic safety net

An indifferent government’s response to the current pandemic and its economic impact is now presenting a set of scenarios that is likely to exacerbate deep-rooted inequities, otherwise entrenched in different socio-political, economic forms.

One particular group worst affected by the economic crisis, particularly within the unorganised or unsecured worker space, has been that of the domestic workers. The plight of the domestic working class (mostly women), toiling hard in India’s rich urban metropolises, often at the risk of higher exploitation and indignation by the elite class (of higher-income urban households), is widely known and written about.

Noted sociologist Dipankar Gupta has often written and spoken about the inherent failure of the elite middle-class residing in urban metros to empathise with the lives of female workers, both experientially and in terms of understanding their material state of being, calling it the problem of intersubjectivity.

Such concerns around ‘intersubjectivity’, as part of the troubled modern relationship between the elite and the (lower) working class, existed long before the pandemic, and now it seems, the divide has only been further intensified.

According to an ILO report of April (2020), estimates show that the economic crisis arising from COVID-19 and the government’s response to it is likely to further push almost 40 crore informal (unsecured) workers into absolute poverty. This estimate includes more than 200 million women employed as domestic workers. The actual numbers may be far worse due to (pre-existing) concerns in statistical accounting of unpaid, care workers.

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TheWire.in, 24 July, 2020, https://thewire.in/labour/lockdown-female-domestic-workers-covid-19-lockdown


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