A mother of six was shocked to learn that her friends’ children were infected with HIV by a housemaid. She has since been taking all potential house-helps for an HIV test.
Many working parents have shifted the responsibility of raising children to domestic workers, who are commonly called house girls.
A recent report by Platform for Labour Action (PLA) indicates that over 44 per cent of domestic workers in Rwanda are below 20 years of age. PLA argues that domestic workers are among the most underprivileged and despised in Rwanda.
A survey found no common standard for hiring domestic workers. The duties delegated to them also vary according to household.
Clare Gatera’s children are aged between 1 to 16 years. She says before employing any domestic worker, an HIV test must be done to establish their status.
Samuel Mugisha, who runs the Victoria Domestic Professionals Agency, says, “Children are victims of bad relationship between employers and domestic workers. Domestic workers are sometimes sexually exploited by male members of the family.”
Mastura Nabugabo, a mother of two and a resident of Nyabugogo, prefers sourcing for domestic workers from her relatives. She says she would not mind hiring an HIV positive house help as long as she can do the work. Nabugabo’s current house help, Shariffa Namwimba, was orphaned and had to look for work.
At Victoria Domestic Professionals Agency, Mugisga is concerned that most domestic workers are underpaid and cannot make any useful investment or saving.
Sections of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention also recognise the need for decent pay for domestic workers.