Much as women seem to be a problem, the men are worse. Many want to treat their maids as sex slavesClaudia Namata hired six different housemaids in 2008, all of whom she had to relinquish for obvious reasons.
The girls were either not performing their duties, beating up her children, seducing her husband, or dressing inappropriately.
“Every profession requires that someone dresses appropriately but maids do not know this,” she says. “They wear short skirts, make-up and earrings as if that is the proper dress code!”
According to her, maids can only dress like this on their day-off, not when coming to work where the mistress’ husband is all eyes.
Indeed some maids turn children into punching bags. Others could turn your house into a brothel. Yet another might snatch your husband or get pregnant and stay put.
One lady narrates: “I once saw a maid who was very pregnant, she looked like the madam of the house”.
Some maids may steal your property, while others are plain disrespectful. The list reads like an arm.
After everyone has vented their frustration, someone points out that the reason there is no good house-help anymore is because of the introduction of Universal Secondary Education (USE). Apparently, when USE started, all the school leavers with a bit of brains went back to school, leaving those that are mentally challenged as the only available labour. And these cannot perform even the simplest of menial tasks.
Moses Ninsiima, Manager of Difra Language Services, a firm that helps people find house-help, says that it is UPE (Universal Primary Education) and not USE that is to blame for the poor quality of maids available. Before UPE, he used to have so many girls being brought by their parents to find jobs. But when UPE came into the picture, parents took their children to school instead. He says that on a good day, he gets only about three girls seeking employment. The day I was there, he had gotten none. The less competitive the business has become, the shoddier the work.
Indeed Ninsiima agrees that house-help these days is poor, although describing housemaids as a “necessary evil”.
“You need housemaids and must work with them but then, I have heard of many of them that have broken up homes,” he says. Ninsiima tells a story of a man who recruited a maid and turned her into a ‘wife’. The real wife complained to Ninsiima.
When Ninsiima lied to the man that the house-help’s parents wanted her back, the man refused to let her go. “Let her parents come for her but if they do not, I will not release her,” the man said.
But not all house-help are some kind of horn spotting devils. Ninsiima says one just has to learn to work with them.
The problem with women is that they forget that these are people and need to be treated as such. They overwork them and then don’t pay afterwards. Imagine someone has to wake-up at 4.00a.m. and go to bed at 1.00a.m. after a back-breaking day!
Much as women seem to be a problem, the men are worse. Many want to treat their maids as sex slaves. Ninsiima says that he has heard of many rape cases.
Aisha Mutesi, who once worked as a maid but now works at Homecare Services in Wandegeya, says her former employer raped her. “I can tell other girls have experienced the same problem but they keep quiet,” she says.
Mutesi adds that employers are sometimes petty. They make house-help sleep in different houses from theirs and eat bad food too. “Do you expect someone to work well when you treat them that way?” she asks.