Waiting areas for house helps: Safety measure or classist practice?
A recent tweet showing a notice by a residential society in Bengaluru which has made designated waiting area for house helps, has piqued reactions from several social media users. Delhiites are divided on the issue since some cite security concerns whereas others feel it reeks of discriminatory behaviour.
A recent tweet by a Bengalurean shared how a housing society is making it compulsory for house helps in the locality to use a designated waiting area rather than sit in the local parks between their jobs or to eat food. Commenting on the same, the Twitter user Vibin Babuurajan wrote: “Residents of a Bangalore society confusing class and being a classist.” The ensuing debate has left Delhiites divided — some believe that the notice is valid given security concerns, while others feel it smacks of discriminatory behaviour.
“We do have a designated area for maids and gardeners in the vicinity because we obviously cannot make them sit with us or our children if they work for us. There needs to be some boundary,” says Roshan Pal Singh, president of Karol Bagh block 19C Residents Welfare Association (RWA), adding, “If maids are around, it only leads to high chances of personal information being leaked from the house as they usually have their attention on everything that’s going on in the house. It’s difficult for most of the maids to stick to their business. And not always can one afford to have part-time maids especially in houses where there are children and the elderly to take care of. Toh isse better hai ki apna kaam karein aur chup-chaap bahar jaake baith jaayein.”
Sharing similar thoughts, Bijoy Dixit, president of Golden Palms RWA in Gurugram, says, “It’s also a matter of security for we don’t know what’s their background. Not everyone gets a police verification done for their maids. In which case, it’s highly important to ensure that their movement is restricted.”
In fact, some societies in the Capital were planning to have similar waiting areas for maids. “It’s not discrimination towards the maids,” opines Jayant Kumar, president of Mahagun Moderne’s RWA in Sector 51, Noida. He adds, “Our RWA was planning to create such a waiting area in the locality, but the residents disapproved it because they felt that the house helps are also humans and need to be treated with respect just as the other members of the house. They too feel hot in summers and cold in winters, and it would be inhuman to ask them to stay outdoors during intervals in between work.”
Some NCR residents who have a functional facility of waiting room in their societies choose to not send their maids outside the house. One among them is Shikha Kaul, resident of a society on Dwarka-Gurugram expressway, who says, “My housing society’s RWA has built a waiting area for the maids but I don’t like the concept. I ask my house help to stay within the house even if she is just sitting and chatting in between work. She even eats with us and plays with my children during her free time. We need to understand that though there is a class difference but maids are not bonded labourers!”
Author tweets @maishascribbles