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EXPOSED:  How scammers are reaping from exploited domestic workers

EXPOSED: How scammers are reaping from exploited domestic workers

Illegally operating secret groups or individuals are using domestic workers, majority girls, to cash in some money by staging some conflicts with employers, Daily News can establish.

Clueless house owners and tenants in Dar es Salaam looking for house girls contact agents living in Tanzania's Metropolitan city of Dar es Salaam or upcountry and are required to send some money for transport and other charges imposed by middlemen.

"What they do is that they maintain contacts of house-girls stationed somewhere in Dar es Salaam and when someone else needs domestic workers he peddlers just require them to send money to be used for transport and their own disturbance allowances,” says Esther Takwa, Kinyerezi resident in Ilala District in Dar es Salaam as she explains how her family were affected by a felon.

“There was a mother (name was not disclosed) who agreed with my mother to bring a house-girl from Iringa. She demanded some amount for transport and her allowance for discharging the task. The woman did as she promised,” said Esther, who is a journalist.

Based on some experiences, the lady said, her family suspected that the housemaid was not from Iringa because she seemed to be familiar with many issues of Dar es Salaam contrary to other newcomers.

“After only three months she quit home…and we suspected that she had been linked to another employer,” she said.

Thomas Baraka, 39, who resides at Mivumoni in Kinondoni District, says that he paid about 100,000/- to a person who promised to find girls in Geita region capable of working as a housemaid.

A father of three stated that in the first three months, she was discharging her duties “very diligently” though she changed later.

“My wife made a follow-up and realised that she was communicating with the man who linked her with us. Then she left home for a new job within the town,” he said.

It was established that the movement of the house girls from one house to another is an opportunity to peddlers who cash in since the maids' seekers are being forced to pay fare and disturbance allowances.

 “They pretend that they (maids) are coming from upcountry, some kilometres away from the city of Dar es Salaam but the reality is that they create conflicts between bosses and house girls in Dar es Salaam. When they receive fare from other bosses, they pocket it and claim that they have obtained the house girls from other regions,” he added.

Even if the agent receives money to be used as fare and on transit allowances for housemaids, some agents give them little on not at all, according to Anna Msukuma, 18, who was stationed with a family living at Madale in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam.

“When I arrived in Dar es Salaam, my boss asked me if I ate anything during my journey of more than 14 hours. She was surprised to hear that the agent didn’t give me Sh10,000 to buy anything like food, water or soda,” said Anna.

Another technique

Alex Temu, a Goba based resident in Ubungo Municipal in Dar es Salaam says not all girls quarrel with their bosses to get an exit door. Instead, they give some genuine reasons to convince their bosses.

“For instance, they might say that their close relatives have passed away or parents are sick, hence they need to go back home to support them,” the father of two says.

After being released by their respective boss, the man narrates, they move to another working station after the agent cash in some fare and other allowances.

Women rights based organisation, Haki za Wanawake (HAWA) founder and director Joyce Kiria says majority of housemaids are being treated like commodities and only few who are operating illegally are cashing in whenever they shift from one place to another.

“They are being exploited in many ways…they are being paid very little and still there are groups of people who make some money. This is purely exploitation,” she says.

Way out

To get rid of the problem, HAWA founder suggests, employers should sign contracts with the maids to work for a specific period of time and improve their salary.

Ms Joyce who used to work as house girls some years back says that if house girls will sign working contracts with their bosses as well as paid timely and other stipulated rights, it will be difficult for them to be lured by individuals who see them as an “opportunity.”

Through Wadada Center platform, Joyce trains domestic workers about their rights including job contracts and decent works and rights after realizing that most employers prefer underage and uneducated girls who cannot demand for their rights.

While domestic workers face exploitation from their own bosses and agents, Section 16(1) of Employment and Labour Relations Act of 2004 was enacted in Tanzania in order to establish basic employment standards, to provide a framework for collective bargaining, to provide for the prevention and settlement of disputes, and to provide for related matters.

Despite promising words from the law, the majority of domestic workers are not enjoying their rights, something activist Joyce Kiria says; “We have established a programme to reach this group and train them to know their rights.”

After more than a decade since the Law was enacted to make provisions for core labour rights, to establish basic employment standards, to provide a framework for collective bargaining, to provide for the prevention and settlement of disputes, and to provide for related matters, house girls are still far from enjoying the stipulated rights.

ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recognizes the significant contribution of domestic workers to the global economy which includes “increasing paid job opportunities for women and men workers with family responsibilities, greater scope for caring for ageing populations, children and persons with a disability, and substantial income transfers within and between countries.”

Honoring the underprivileged group contributions, Article 3 of ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) requires measures to ensure the effective promotion and protection of the human rights of all domestic workers.

 

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