UPSC SOCIOLOGY MAINS SYLLABUS
(vii) Challenges of Social Transformation:
(a) Crisis of development: displacement, environmental problems and sustainability.
(b) Poverty, deprivation and inequalities.
(c) Violence against women.
(d) Caste conflicts.
(e) Ethnic conflicts, communalism, religious revivalism.
(f) Illiteracy and disparities in education
As per traditions, domestic work was considered to be an ‘unpaid work’ performed mainly by female in the family. However, of late, in the changing economic conditions, occupations in industries are becoming lucrative. As a result, more female, especially from middle-class families, are participating in the labor market. Therefore, the so-called ‘un-paid nonmarket activity’ (domestic work), to an extent, remained out of the purview of occupational options available for educated persons. The new segmentation of domestic work in the form of an outsourced activity has raised the importance of the occupation higher than ever before. Often, migrant workers or economically weaker sections of the society participate in it. Indeed, millions of people participate in this work. It makes domestic work a pivotal occupation in determining the linkage between family and dynamics of the open economy.
WHAT IS DOMESTIC LABOUR ?
Domestic labour refers to the different roles and responsibilities that need to be completed within the household. For example, child rearing and housework. Stereotypically the cereal packet family would influence how couples would structure the division of domestic labour. Men would be expected to be the breadwinner and disciplinarian, whilst females are expected to be the housekeeper, raising children and emotional support for the man.
FEMALE DOMESTIC WORKERS
Domestic work is one of the oldest and most important informal occupations for millions of female around the world. Female have limited options and enter the domain of domestic work in the absence of education, economic resources and other opportunities. The term ‘domestic service’ is practically difficult to define since the duties of domestic workers are not well defined. Domestic service is now accepted as an important category of livelihood across the globe. Domestic service remains a highly personalized and informal service delivered in the homes of employers. In domestic service, work cannot be subjected to any comparative tests, since it has the character almost unique in wage paid industry, of being carried on for use, not for profit, and the settlement of wages remains an individual bargain between employers and employed.
The steep decline in agrarian produce and livelihood security in rural areas has caused migration of rural people to urban areas. The number of female domestic workers is constantly growing in the informal sector of urban India. The family financial crisis has also compelled the female to become domestic workers and protect the interest of the family. Domestic work has remained unorganized, unrecognized and unrewarding for the domestic workers. Most of the domestic workers are migrants who have come from rural to urban areas in search of livelihood opportunities. A substantial number of female in the rural areas migrate to the urban areas for the sake of employment due to lack of education and job skills. The numbers of domestic workers are increasing but their living conditions are precarious in the urban slums.
The domestic workers are denied of minimum wages, healthy work period, safe working conditions and other benefits in the absence of trade unions and state intervention. The wage levels of domestic workers are much less than their male counterparts. The employers do not provide extra wages for more workload. They also carry out other tasks which are not linked with their regular duties. Domestic workers are highly exploited and denied just wages and humane working conditions. They are paid well below the minimum wages for unskilled or semi-skilled workers. The female domestic workers are under the constant fear of termination from work. They are taken for granted by the employers. Studies have reported that female domestic workers face sexual harassment which is still an unspeakable issue in India.
The female domestic workers face the daunting challenge of combining Paid work with their maternal role and long hours of unpaid care work. The female domestic workers are more likely to resort to unfavorable coping strategies, such as leaving children alone at home, enlisting the help of an older sibling or young relative, or taking children to work, if allowed, with adverse consequences on children’s health and education as well as worker’s productivity. The rights of domestic helps are also deeply impinged by the general characterization of the private sphere as one of the rationales rather than autonomy, and sacrifice, obligation and emotion.
LEGAL PROTECTION AND RIGHTS
Paid domestic work continues to be excluded from the central list of scheduled employments under the Minimum Wages Act of 1948. It is not covered under either the Payment of Wages Act (1936) or the Workmen’s Compensation Act (1923) or the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act (1970) or the Maternity Benefit Act (1961). The other two Central Government interventions in recent times, bringing domestic workers under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008; Domestic Workers Welfare & Social Security Act 2010 and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 look good on paper but inspire little hope of making a difference in the real world in the absence of mechanisms for inspection and enforcement.
‘Domestic Workers’ are explicitly included in the Unorganized Workers (Social Security) Act, 2008 and Domestic Workers Welfare & Social Security Act 2010. The record of implementation and enforcement of legal and welfare provisions for ‘domestic workers’ has been patchy. ‘Domestic Workers’ are largely absent from the State Policy which is tied to the social and economic devaluation of care and its gendered, class and caste characteristics. The Trade Unions, Worker Organizations and NGOs find a lot of difficulty in reaching each and every ‘Domestic Worker’. The implementation of the law is a challenge because of the informal and decentralized nature of the domestic labour market. The Supreme Court has noted that ‘Domestic Workers’ should be remunerated regardless of the type of establishment, potential to pay and accessibility of ‘domestic workers’ at reduced wages.
‘Domestic Workers’ constitute a large population of workforce, have been absent from the legal landscape of labour laws of the country. The nature of employment, employer-employee relationship and indeterminate work environment are amongst several factors to deny the statutory benefits to ‘Domestic Workers’. The absence of statutory safeguards makes the workers vulnerable and reasons to exploit them from the hand market forces. ‘Domestic Workers’ are not considered significant enough components of the labour force and hence, adequate redressal mechanisms in law or policy are absent.