Watatita: Your Maids Deserve Protection and Respect, Too
I’m sure many of you have a live-in house maid or as we call it in Bahasa Indonesia: a “pembantu.” Some maids are lucky to be employed in a house full of kind people who treat them fairly, while many are stuck with families who treat them like animals.
Sometimes I see the ‘true colors’ of people when they talk to their maids. When I was a lot younger, I visited a friend’s house for the first time — and this was someone that I thought was a lot of fun, cheerful and helpful. Yet, I completely changed my mind about her when I saw the way she talked to her maid. It was terrible and degrading.
I’m sure we have heard a lot of horror stories about Indonesian maids working overseas, yet we don’t even realize that many other sad stories also happen in Indonesia. A close friend of mine recently stayed over at a relative’s house, and the maid — who was desperate for someone to talk to — confessed how much she wanted to leave the household due to the appalling treatment she received from her boss and his teenage child. Nevertheless, she wasn’t given permission to leave. She couldn’t leave either because she hasn’t been paid for the past seven months — that’s slavery.
One of the previous maids who worked in my house couldn’t stop shaking — a physical condition she suffered after an abusive childhood. And in the last house she worked, she was badly treated by her employer. She even had eggs and boiling water thrown at her.
On the other side though, there are maids who actually cause us degrees of frustration. Some of them steal, some of them are drama queens, and many of them don’t exactly know how to do their jobs properly. However, that doesn’t give us the right to treat them like lower beings.
To all of you who abuse your maids, verbally or physically, just try and live without them. Imagine if you were in their shoes. Many of them leave their hometowns, leave their families, to live a hard life and earn small amounts of money. Are you capable of that?
Children, in particular, must learn how to treat them appropriately and this they get from the adults in the home. Remember, respect is something that you earn. Just like what my mother always says to me, “Treat people the way you want to be treated.”