‘Barred from entering’: Dharavi domestic workers recount the social impact of the COVID 19 pandemic

Domestic workers from Dharavi still face social stigma as many housing societies bar entry for them. The women blame media’s sensational reporting for the unending discrimination.

Sarasvati NT August 07, 2020 19:04:04 IST

Mumbai: Though the Dharavi Model gained much traction in early July, for the domestic workers and other informal workers of Dharavi, nothing much has changed in terms of the social stigma they were subjected to ever since the coronavirus entered the slum-area. While they are struggling to resume work, they are restricted from entering the residential societies of their employers.

“When we tell we are from Dharavi, they do not let us in. We also want to do something else and not just remain domestic workers our whole life,” says Revathi Sanditi, a 32-year-old domestic worker from Anna Nagar, Dharavi.

Revathi and her husband, who is a driver, are both unemployed since the lockdown and have started selling vegetables now to meet their daily needs.

“My husband lost his job and was recently replaced by some other workers who are not from Dharavi. The government should somehow help us now,” says Kavita Shinde, a 29-year-old domestic worker from AKG Nagar who used to earn Rs.2000 monthly is now unemployed.

For many domestic workers in Dharavi, their husband’s job loss since the lockdown has added to their adversity, leaving them to survive to on charity, debts and in some cases, on their child’s meagre earnings from a part-time job.

According to Vennila Suresh Kumar, member of the Magizhichi Peravai, a women’s rights organisation in Dharavi, “Media sensationalised the issue ever since the first case was reported from Dharavi. Now that they are praising the Dharavi model, it is media’s responsibility to highlight our issues of unemployment too.”

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