We are migrant domestic workers, mostly women of different nationalities from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria and others. We came together and formed our own self-help group upon learning that many of our needs, problems and dreams are shared. We were all driven by escaping poverty from our countries of birth, we left to support ourselves and give our families a decent livelihood.
Alone we were often unable to exercise our own freedom and our rights. Our passports were taken from us by employers, we were made to work long hours, sometimes without pay, our salaries were often delayed, and we suffered verbal abuse and physical assault, severe psychological abuse and sexual harassment. Because of all these, we were forced to leave the household where we worked in search of better employment.
We are women who care for families that are the building blocks of this nation. We only dreamt of a better life for our own families and we work so hard - only not to be paid, to be beaten and in the worse scenarios, to be sexually abused. We may be invisible, but that doesn’t mean that the work and contribution we make to society and the economy shouldn’t be seen and respected. The Voice of Domestic Workers (VoDW) continues to seek recognition for our contribution as caregivers to children and elders, and to household management. We contribute to the British economy and society. We continue to search for ways to overcome our isolation and vulnerability and we demand respect as workers and as human beings.
Domestic work is work, domestic workers are workers. And we should be protected by the same rights that all workers have, even if we are migrants. Let us not sacrifice our humanity in a quest for immigration control, which leaves us unprotected, makes us vulnerable and systemically discriminates against us.