Should housekeepers eat gruyère cheese?

In an article published this Sunday in several newspapers of the country, under the title “Fight of Classes”, journalist Danuza Leão, that lives in the expensive south zone of the Rio de Janeiro, used a personal experience for ratify the concept that simply is not possible treat the domestic employees on equal terms, however much the boss be a humanist, because the tendency is that the worker will overkill and want more and more benefits. In Brazil, by the way, a vulgar expression for that kind of behavior exists: you will give a hand, he is going to want the arm.

In the history told by the journalist, the maid, with whom she always has kept cordial relations, started going with her daily to a social club, before begining her professional activities in Danuza’s home. Feeling comfortable with the way she was being treated, the maid began investing by herself in her well bein, opening the freezer for pinch a cheese gruyère and until taking her significant other for enjoying the journalist’s house in the weekends when she was absent.

Putting their relationship aside, it was remarkable how the article  established a difference between the journalist’s world and the maid’s one. Curiosly, the article was released at the same week a study showed how is becoming difficult for Brazilian middle class couples to hire domestic workers. With the economic growth and the increasing education level of the poorest Brazilians not every girl coming from smaller cities is available for work hard and sometimes being humilliated and even constrained to have sexual contact with inexperient, wealthy teenagers.

Since the abolition of the slavery, in 1888, the rich families of Brazil found in the housework a form of lawfully subjudge poor people, a practice that was spreaded among the society across decades, to the point of even poor families maintain people working in its houses. To have a maid was always so cheap that in poor regions as Salvador, Bahia, until recently there were fewer people working in the industry than in houses.

The so called service elevators that, by the law, serve barely for the transport of goods, are traditionally used for avoid the contact of the inhabitants with the employees and, sometimes, with black or apparently poor people.

But thanks to the economic growth and the improvement in the access to education, the way as the society sees the domestic workers is gradually changing. The middle class families now have to disburse more and more money for have someone at your disposal in home. And the notion of legalized slave work is fading away.

A matter published recently by the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo shows the example of a woman of 29 years that, in 2003, earned R$ 350 by month working for a family, with obligation of sleep at work. Today, after doing two courses of qualification as baby sitter, earns R$ 1.300 and works eight hours daily. Some domestic employees already can buy cars and, perhaps, in short time can also buy cheese gruyère.

About Gilson Jorge

Fã de Tom Waits, Chico Buarque e Woody Allen, que adora contar histórias do cotidiano
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