House girls face a hard life in Dar es Salaam

By Noah Lusekelo and Mbuya Godfriend

House girls in Dar es Salaam face a difficult life. In their work environments, they are subject to verbal and physical abuse, torture, and exploitation by their employers. The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) in Dar es Salaam has recognized this problem and declares that the state should undertake measures to provide favourable working conditions, including fair wages and equal remuneration, as guaranteed conditions of work in their employment.

Devotha Kajinga, a house girl in Kimara area, said “I am paid only Tshs 40,000/= per month, but I wash clothes, I cook, I clean the house, outside environment , fetching water 100 liters per day on top of caring for children.”

Devotha wakes early in the morning and sleeps at 23.00 daily in order to make sure she can manage to accomplish all her work per day. These conditions affect her health.

“If I feel sick my employer sends me to the hospital but the cost of treatment is reduced from my salary,” she said.

Jacqueline Msangu, another house girl in Dar es Salaam, claims that some of her employers have beat her for no reason.

“My first employer was giving me on Tshs 20,000/= per month and his wife was suspecting that I was having relations with her husband. So she would beat me and withhold my pay as a result. Now I am working for another employer and at least I am paid Tshs 30,000/= per month now, as well as my basic needs” she explained.

Adja Kyando was found at Mwenge in Dar es Salaam begging for help. She was chased away by the wife of her former employer last week after she was caught having sex with her husband. “I have been having sex with the man for more than three months. The man forced me to have sex with him and he said if I refused, he would chase me away. He said if I informed his wife he is going to kill me. Because I lack any support from my relatives since my parents died in 2010 I found myself passing a difficult life, I worked with three employers and all of them have given me the opportunity to have sex with them,” she said.

The Chair Person of Youth Volunteer for Trust Fund (YOVOVU), Mr.Hagai Mkaro, said that they established their non-governmental institution because they found that a lot of house workers who were being oppressed and exploited in Tanzania and other African countries.

“We invite the house workers in and provide them with knowledge on how to work, their rights and the importance of having contracts with their employers and how to have contracts. I advise those who desire to be house workers and who are house workers to visit our institution in order to know how to protect their rights” Mkaro added.

All house girl employees are protected under National legislation which guarantee the right to work under the constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, Article 22.

Noah believes in advocating for children’s right to education and believes that parents are responsible for ensuring this right is recognized. As a journalist, Noah hopes to become the voice of the society and to be an advisor of human rights.

Godfriend is a student at St. Augustine University of Tanzania. In the past, he has produced radio programs that focus on the rights of disabled people. His dream is to serve society by bringing light to human rights abuses.

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