By Tony Ezike
Distinguished Senator Uche Ekwunife CON has called for a legislation that would guide bosses house help relationship in line with the child’s right act. The Senator disclosed this on RAYS OF HOPE, a radio programme on Ogene 98.3 FM which was monitored by Citypost.
According to the Senator young people should not be deployed for domestic services until they were 18 years when they can take responsibility for their actions and utterances. She made it clear that the 6 to 8 years old being engaged for household service in some cases are minors, noting that doing so amounts to child labour.
She expressed concern over a situation whereby domestic servants are converted to slaves, brutalized in some cases, yet not given commensurate rewards for working almost round the clock.
Ekwunife made it clear that she knows what is happening in the society irrespective of her status, hence her decision to lend her voice to pertinent issues and be part of the solution in any way she can.
“A policy framework aimed at protecting the rights of house helps has become expedient following the rising incidents of rifts and hostility between house helps and their bosses.
“Stronger legislation for house help engagement should be considered as a matter of urgency. This is necessary to enable families looking for house helps to follow strict procedures for hiring such domestic servants.
“Sadly, nobody considers house helps in terms of minimum wage. Some of them are not even being paid for services rendered or sent to school, therefore a law to protect the interest of this vulnerable group should be enacted as a matter of priority.
“I saw in one video where a 10 year old house help was beaten and seriously wounded with machete for bed-wetting. In another video, it was a nanny beating a 3-momth old to the point of death. The list of cases is endless, just as the situation is becoming more unbearable by the day.
Similarly Senator Ekwunife highlighted the angle of deliberate domestic servant’s misbehaviour and violent attacks against their hosts. She questioned the audacity of a well treated servant to attack the master in a violent manner and suggested steps to forestall this ugly trend.
“People who hire the services of house helps should bear in mind that anyone who submits to the status of a domestic servant has already assumed self less privileged. They belong to the vulnerable class of people, so should be treated with affection to avoid a situation whereby they start keeping malice and eventually become hostile.
“The house help who hacked her master to death with a pestle in Awka recently is a typical example of the hostile type, given that no one in his right senses and in good terms with his host will do a thing like that. Unfortunately, there are many of such exceptional cases that ended up in bloodshed.
“Training and education of domestic servants is key to refining Young Minds engaged to perform such duties. Skill training is a good option where academic sponsorship is not tenable. Recently even the Igbo Apprenticeship Scheme known as “Boy Boy” has been taken over by sales girls who in some cases doubles as house helps”, she stated.
Senator Ekwunife equally advocated for channels of complaint. This channels according to her should be a regulatory platform for house help engagement. Hot lines should be provided to the public by this agency for real-time communication and feedback on bosses house help relationship.
Furthermore, she suggested sending back home identified hostile servants early enough, while proffering periodic medical checkup and counselling of domestic servants considering that some people have the tendency of taking to violence at some point if not identified and addressed on time.
She canvassed for awareness amongst neighbours and members of the society to awaken the consciousness of more people on the need for proper grooming of domestic servants. The senator urged concerned bosses to realize that the house helps in their homes are someone else’s children.
The award-winning Senator noted that there should be no segregation or selective treatment between one’s own children and their house helps.
“It is important to note that most parents tend to give out their children as house helps because they cannot afford to give them quality upbringing, so subjecting the children to situations worse than what the parents bargained for is absolutely immoral and reprehensible.
“Parents who are privileged to offer their children quality upbringing should extend the love to their house helps and share the house chores amongst all of them. If we concentrate on training other people’s children for the fact that they were house helps, then who will train our own children?” she lamented.
Responding to questions raised by one of the callers, Senator Ekwunife stated that the three arms of government in the country are charged with different roles when it comes to legal processes.
In her clarifications, she informed the caller that RAYS OF HOPE is not a political programme, then went ahead to let him know that the role of lawmakers is to make laws while the judiciary and the executive are concerned with execution and enforcement respectively.