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Research Findings: Human Rights Violations in the Context of Live-in Domestic Work.

Download the report here.

Live-in domestic workers in South Africa frequently find themselves in the terrible position of having to forego their basic human rights in order to retain their jobs. Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance and Solidarity Center have just released a report on violations against live-in domestic workers in South Africa.

The report describes how employers and sectional title complexes regularly impose rules that directly violate workers' constitutional rights, including rights to privacy, freedom of movement, family life, and adequate housing. These violations go unchecked because of the private spaces in which they operate, and the large degree of informality and vulnerability in the domestic work sector.

  • 25% of respondents are not able to lock their room or cottage.

  • 77% are not allowed to have a spouse or child live with them.

  • 12% said their employer has rules about what food they can eat during their off hours.

  • 20% said their employer had rules about where they could go during their off hours, (even before the COVID-19 pandemic).

  • 17% said that their employer has rules about whether they can have a baby.

  • Over 3/4 of respondents residing in the staff quarters of a complex, apartment building or estate are not allowed to have visitors, and half are not allowed to make use of the common areas.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the conditions of domestic work. Lockdown measures imposed by the state, and much more severe restrictions put in place by employers, were abrupt and continue to severely limit the movement of live-in domestic workers, denying them access to their families, health care, food and other basic needs during the pandemic.


The Persistence of Private Power
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Register here to join us Tuesday, 1 February 2022, at 16h00, for a panel discussion on the research findings with McGill University Faculty of Law Professor of Transnational Labor and Development Adelle Blackett, and former South African Labor Court judge and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Urmilla Bhoola.


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