She was just a child herself. She was however, expected to wake up daily by 5am, to help her wards... the children of her caregivers... get ready for school. When they leave home, she dare not go back to sleep because, that was a crime in the book of her caregivers. Her dreams of going back to school became just that, a dream. She saw the dream die away. No matter what she did, she never did anything right. She was just a pest, taken from the dungeons of poverty or so it seems, to be uplifted by her new parents, to get a chance at life she couldn't get with her real parents. Only that, her uplifting means she became more or less a slave who worked and scrubbed and cooked and washed and ironed away with little or no sleep, feeding on left overs and dressing in discarded clothes which have seen years of tear and wear. Put simply, for a chance at a better life, her dignity was lost and her humanity forgotten.
This is a scenario a lot of us have probably watched repeatedly before us, sometimes even by relations and people we know... the plight of the girl child and the desire for a better future which transforms many of them into over worked, abused and under starved kids playing domestic workers. They are often abused emotionally, dealing with all kinds of insults, physically beaten with objects, sexually...sometimes abused by the man of the house or other boys present in the house while the mistress turns a blind eye, and even economically. Promises to send them to school or to learn a trade usually hardly ever materialize and sometimes, they run away after years of slaving with no evidence of financial compensation for their labours of love and sacrifices.
They leave scarred, cheated upon and sent back to start life empty handed. Most often, such girls may end up as prostitutes or run the risk of falling into the hands of traffickers in a quest to better their lives.
The sad thing here is most of the maltreatment these girls face are in the hands of some women who call themselves emancipated and empowered. I have often wondered why an emancipated and empowered person, would fail to see the humanity of other vulnerable children under them who ask for nothing but a chance to be empowered and be emancipated from poverty?
There have been so much talks on the many aspects of GBV affecting women but so little talks about domestic abuse of domestic workers...most of whom are children themselves.
A couple of years ago, I witnessed an incident that left me angry and at the same time, forced to stand up for a young girl working for a family. Why did I stand for her? The answer is simple. She may have been a domestic helper, doing menial work according to the people she was working for, but to me, I saw her humanity first, deserving of dignity and respect. That incident made me to promise never to look down on anyone, especially the many women who are often forced by cultures and circumstances beyond their control to find themselves in situations they never imagined to be there. When you see such people what comes to mind?
For me, I see their struggles. I feel their frustrations for being exploited and manipulated just because they are trying to make a living.. But above all, I see their need for love, dignity and respect. I see them standing tall like the unbroken rocks that they are despite being beaten and thrown down by life's unfairness. I see their humanity and that is why #IStandWithHer.