• Home
  • Dealing With Domestic Help Abuse II

Dealing With Domestic Help Abuse II

Mediation experts, Dr. Uchenna Cyril Anioke and Mrs. Ella, on Monday during a radio program, Dispute Resolution Arena, on Solid 100.9 FM, Enugu, carried out further treatment on the previous week’s discussion on domestic help abuse and how best to treat domestic helps to ensure a peaceful and happy home.
As stated previously, domestic help abuse has remained a topical issue in our society. Incidents where domestic servants are maltreated by their madams or masters abound. A case at hand during the program was that of 19-year-old domestic help, Chidimma, who reported verbal and emotional abuse from an elderly couple she is currently staying with.
According to Chidimma, the couple maltreat her and deny her food. They don’t take care of her whenever she falls sick and they never provide any of her other needs. In addition to all these, she is subjected to more tasks than she can carry. She also suffers verbal abuse from her “madam”.
The initial agreement was that Chidinma should receive N10,000 monthly salary from the couple for her services. However, the couple later changed their mind and said they will send her to school in forfeiture of the amount agreed upon. Well, Chidimma has not started; she wrote last JAMB exam.
In Chidimma’s own words:
“In terms of the food I eat, I cook, but I won’t eat that food until the food is spoilt. They don’t give me good food there. The food is spoilt or about to spoil before they bring it out for me to eat. And if I ask her for anything, she will refuse. They refuse to give me money to cater for any personal needs. If I ask her for anything, she will say I don’t need it, even for slippers, she will say I don’t need it, – that it is easier to help one when you show restraint. So, as for the kind of job they make me do in the house, it is beyond me, the like I can not even handle. I do a lot of jobs to the point that I even have to go outside the gate and start packing dustbin outside – dustbin that people throw which is ESWAMA thing, but they will tell me that it is looking dirty that I have to go there and clean up the place. When people pass, they will be looking at me and they will be like ‘Are you an ESWAMA, why are you doing this?” And then if I fall sick, I have fallen sick a lot of times and it seems they don’t care. And I kept telling them I am not well but they take me for granted and they expect me to still work. Even when I am telling them I am not well, they still expect me to work. They don’t consider me as a human being. Coupled with the insult and the way they treat me – they are aged but the way they treat me…
“At a point I had to call my mum and I told her that I can’t continue staying here, that I was becoming depressed. I couldn’t bear it and I called her and I told her I don’t want to stay anymore, that I want to go back even though I know that things are hard for us back there but at least I will have my peace of mind. I told her I don’t want to stay anymore.”
However, Chidimma’s mother reported her to her Church pastor who connected Chidimma and the abusive elderly couple. Unfortunately for the poor girl, the so called man of God upbraided her saying she should be patient with the abusive couple and bear whatever they throw at her in as much as they have agreed to train her in school.
For the above case, the mediation experts said it amounts to modern-day slavery. They pointed out that the said pastor is one of those who give bad name to men of God. Instead of engaging the abusive couple to change and be kind to Chidimma, he wants the poor girl to continue being abused in the manner described above.
Dr. Anioke maintained that if the couple do not want to take care of the young girl, they should allow her to go. He vowed to engage the pastor, the abusive couple and Chidimma’s mother and perhaps get human rights organizations involved to resolve the issue and save the innocent girl from further abuse because if nothing is done, it can go on and on.
The mediators, however, advocated that domestic helps should be treated with respect, because respect is reciprocal; kindness, because they help keep their masters’ lives going smoothly; trust (when earned), because that will bring the domestic help closer to you; and also with understanding and sympathy. Masters and Madams should put themselves In the domestic helps’ shoes and ensure they are never overworked, or abused in any way, rather they should be communicated with using effective and appropriate language and choice of words.
Some callers to the program advised Chidimma to leave the couple and go back home even if her mother doesn’t want her to return do to hardship. They are of the opinion that it is better for her to manage whatever little they have at home than risk her life living with the abusive elderly couple.

Leave a Reply