Forgotten Workers 409
Many women earn money working at tasks—like selling in
the marketplace, making home crafts, and domestic work—that
are not considered formal jobs. These jobs have very few
protections, so women who do them are at risk for being
exploited and abused.
A domestic worker faces many of the same health problems
already described in this chapter. Because she works in someone
else’s home, she has few rights and little protection. She faces:
• exhaustion and poor nutrition from long hours and poor pay.
Even though she may cook for her employer, she is often
given little to eat.
• constant fear of losing her job and of being mistrusted
by her employer. She may lose her job if she becomes
pregnant. These fears, and the separation from her family,
can cause mental health problems.
• sexual harassment, especially if she lives in her employer’s
house. Because he has power over her job, she may be
forced to have sex.
• painful bone, joint and muscle problems from working on
her knees for long periods (‘house-maid’s knee’).
When a woman uses a lot of cleaning chemicals without
using gloves, her skin may become red, cracked, and painful,
and develop open sores.The nails often get thick and
damaged, and separate from the skin underneath.
What to do:
• If possible, use rubber or plastic gloves to protect your hands.
• Keep your hands as dry as you can. Use lotion or the
thick juice from an aloe plant after you finish working.
If your nails begin to look thick or damaged, try
painting them right away with gentian violet.
• Try keeping a bowl of cool black tea or vinegar water
(one capful of vinegar in one quart of water) next to
the sink. Each time you use soapy water, soak your
hands in the tea or vinegar for one minute.
• Use the juices of fresh plants that are known in your
area for helping skin problems like rashes, burns, or
itching. Gather and wash fresh plants, and grind them
into a watery paste. Put your hands in this mixture as
often as you can.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012