During the period of over two months of lockdown, we very well realized the importance of our house helps and other staff like our cooks, drivers, laundrymen, gardeners and others without whose help our daily chores looked like an insurmountable task.
But what should have been a moment of reckoning and realization of their invaluable services and thus valuing them, at some places it went inconspicuous.
Discrimination in the name of coronavirus
Take the example of this posh locality in Noida's sector 48- Ananda apartments. As soon as the strict measures of the lockdown were relaxed, residents of this society called back their house helps and other staff on duty. They want their staff to be back to their houses, cleaning, cooking and driving their cars but were not so certain to ensuring their domestic help' well being.
नोएडा की पॉश सोसायटी #AnandaSector48 का अमानवीय चेहरा।— Sakshi Joshi (@sakshijoshii) May 22, 2020
कोरोना से लड़ने की आड़ में क्या हम ग़रीबों पर अपनी अमीरियत, दलित/पिछड़ा वर्ग पर अपनी ऊँची जाति का रसूख़ झाड़ेंगे?#DomesticHelp को सीढ़ियाँ चढ़नी होंगी लिफ़्ट उनके लिए नहीं है ! @noidapolice @dmgbnagar @myogiadityanath pic.twitter.com/tS3ezDj6Am
In this society, house helps, who are mostly women, have been asked to take the staircase instead of lift. They have been instructed not to take the lift as "it is not for them."
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Whether this rule is a normal procedure or brought in to minimize the coronavirus transmission inside the lift, is not clear.
Domestic helpers made to take the staircase
But the domestic helpers of this society are not happy. One house help told that only female helpers have been barred from using the lift whereas male helpers like drivers and laundrymen can use the lift. She said guards manning at the building entrance have asked them (women helpers) to use the staircase and not to take lifts.
Calling the practice discriminatory, the lady said it is very exhausting for them to climb up 7-8 floors in various buildings in the society to reach one house.
Indeed, it is an exhaustive and unrequired exercise for anyone unless it's a personal choice chosen for a healthy regimen for themselves.
Who orders such a discriminatory rule? Of course, the guards at the building entrance do not issue such decree on their own. They follow what Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) orders them to do. And RWAs do things in consultation with society's residents.
In that sense, house occupants of the society do really know what discrimination their house helps are being subjected to. Isn't it their responsibility to ensure that such discrimination is done away with.
In regard to the above case in Noida, police have taken the cognisance and have ensured to take corrective action.