Sexual harassment and domestic workers

This page was last updated on: 2021-01-10

Domestic workers are amongst the most vulnerable when it comes to abuse in the workplace. Due to their isolation (working alone in a household) and the nature of the work (relatively unskilled), domestic workers are subject to many sorts of unfair treatment and exploitation ranging from long working hours to sub-standard wages. Many women and girls employed as domestic workers around the world face an appalling array of abuses. Sexual harassment against domestic workers is amongst these abuses.

The sexual harassment can consist of the employer or member of a household making sexual jokes or remarks, commenting on the domestic worker’s clothes or figure, making rude noises such as whistling or cat-calling, touching or fondling the domestic worker, demanding sexual favours in order for the domestic worker to keep her job, and rape.

It is very hard for domestic workers to report such cases, as they work in isolation and it is their word against the perpetrator, with seldom any sympathetic witnesses. Domestic workers also fear being fired if they report any sexual harassment.

Due to the work environment (no HR department etc), sexual harassment against a domestic worker would have to be reported as a criminal offence. However, it is very seldom that this takes place, due to fear of retaliation, fear of job loss and fear of not being taken seriously.

Domestic workers are employees and are entitled to a workplace free from sexual harassment.

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