Muslim domestic workers in India change names out of fear

The 2020 study by the Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE) and the Institute of Social Studies Trust (ISST) found out that more Muslim women are engaged in the informal sector than women from any other religion in India.

India’s Muslim domestic workers face rampant caste-based discrimination and even violence. Employers often restrict workers’ access to kitchens, washrooms, elevators, and even their places of worship. There are separate utensils for the workers to eat with. Muslim workers face marginalisation due to their religious identity, said Anita Kapoor, activist and general secretary at the Shehri Mahila Kamgar Union (Urban Domestic Workers’ Union) in New Delhi.

“Many workers have to hide their name and identity in order to get a job and avoid discrimination,” she told.

“And it’s not only the worker who has to change her name but also her kids who often accompany their mothers to work, and their husbands who sometimes take up jobs like driving in the same households. So, their entire family has to go through this struggle.”

“Of all my clients, only one has hired a Muslim domestic worker,” says Shashi Chaudhary, who runs a placement agency in New Delhi.
“So many Muslim girls and boys call me for work. But what do I do? Nobody wants to hire them. I feel so helpless. Sometimes I feel like crying over their circumstances.” Says Chaudhary.

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