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Exploited and underpaid: Poor working conditions of domestic workers in Kenya

In June, Kenya joined the world in commemorating International Domestic Workers Day, calling for an end to the abuse of domestic workers in the country and those who seek greener pastures abroad.

However, more domestic workers in the country continue to suffer at the hands of their employers who continue to exploit them.

It is now emerging that the majority of domestic workers are struggling to feed their families and cope with the high cost of living from their meager earnings.

On Wednesday, a group of domestic workers from Eastleigh area in Nairobi County came out to protest against what they described as exploitation by their employers.

Speaking to the media in Nairobi, the domestic workers, who said they have families to feed, complained of being underpaid and overworked by their employers.

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“I got employed at this age because I had no other option. Life is difficult and there are no jobs,” said one of them.

Some of them, who did not want to disclose their names to the media, complained of being abused by their employers.

According these domestic workers most of them earn between Sh3 000 and Sh4,000 per month.

They also revealed that some employers hire as many as three house helps, whom they pay a maximum of Sh9,000 at the end of the month.

Some of them crossed the border from Uganda in search of better employment opportunities.

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“I came from Uganda and was promised that in Kenya there are job opportunities. Unfortunately, I landed here where am being mistreated and sometimes we are overworked and harassed by our bosses, most of us sleep at the corridors,” one of them, a Ugandan, said.

Even with little payment, which they have accepted to work for, some of them end up sleeping in balconies since some employers provide no accommodation. Some also said going hungry is no longer an issue since they hardly get any food at their places of work.

They now want the government to formulate policies that can protect them from exploitation, abuse and to come up with minimum wage.

During the commemoration of International Domestic Workers Day in Kenya, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender and Affirmative Action Ms Veronica Nduva gave an assurance that the government will protect them from any form of abuse.

Recently, Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHIA) asked house helps in the country to report cases of exploitation and mistreatment.

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