Domestic Helps: A necessary evil?

House helpA few weeks ago, I was chatting my neighbour who has two children, I noticed she was more frazzled than she normally was and when I asked her she told me she has had to take on more work since she sent her house help (domestic help) packing. I was not really surprised because sending a house help away for one reason or the other is fairly common in our part of the world. I have had my own fair share of them – from the one who steals, to the one who loves going to parties and leaving the house for long hours, to the one who got pregnant by my security guard (I’m actually still haunted by the thought of whether they “did it” on my bed while I was at work (cringe!)). However to add to my list of “the horrible things I know house helps can do”, I asked her what happened. She then told me that the girl had been putting Dettol (a disinfectant) in her child’s medicine and even in her husband’s wine! I was shocked at the wickedness of the innocent looking girl, who looks like she cannot swallow a ball of fufu. She actually conceived of the idea to poison, and was actually poisoning the poor woman’s sick child without her knowledge, if not for God’s intervention that made her to taste the medication on that day and she noticed the taste was totally off, I wonder what damage would have been done to the child. In law, all the ingredients necessary to prove a crime were complete – there is mens rea (thought), actus reus (action) and opportunity. Come to think of it, she may have been convicted and punished for a crime. However she was not reported to the police, arrested nor charged for the serious crime of attempted murder, but was simply sent away.

There are so many horror stories that we have heard about house helps from the north, south, east and west. In my opinion, I don’t think its peculiar to any part of the country or even our part of the world, but I can mostly speak for my region, others from other regions can talk about their experiences too. What about some female helps who end up snatching women’s husbands right under their noses, molest the little boys (a lot of adult males have confessed that their first sexual experience was with their house help), or even the male helps who tend to molest female children?

So here is a dilemma. Can we actually do without them because of their tendency to be bad? Or is their behavior a way of getting back at some of their employees who are cruel and would not hesitate to treat them badly and humiliate them at the slightest opportunity? That, by the way is a topic for another day because it goes both ways- just as there are evil house helps, there are also evil “slave masters” too. There are however the lucky few who have house helps that live with them for many years, helping to raise their kids from birth to adolescence, taking care of their homes right, showing respect to their employees and even end up becoming part of the family. I am still in a desperate search for those elusive few house helps who are like that!

With our jobs, careers, businesses and so many other activities that take up our time away from home and children, we need to invite that extra person, who by the way is always a stranger, into our home. We pay them to help us with some of these tasks to make our lives much easier. Sometimes these people have to come and live with us or just come in the mornings and leave at night, depending on which is more convenient for the persons involved. I really believe they are a necessary evil because some of us cannot function well without them, neither is it an easy road to live with them.

So I would like to know your own “house help” story if any and what your opinion is about why some of them are just outright mean, rude, obstinate… (You are free to add your own adjective ☺). Is it because of how some of them are treated or some of them just have inherent wickedness in them, or is it caused by the society in which we live?

Author: Tosne

I'm a human rights lawyer and I love writing my thoughts down because it allows me to express myself in a permanent form. I like to see women succeed and empowered in all aspects of their endeavors. I'm a super mom blessed with wonderful kids!

9 thoughts on “Domestic Helps: A necessary evil?”

  1. Very interesting article!!! For now, no more house help for me! I had to send my last one away! When u are too nice to them, they take advantage. When u are mean, some of them act right while some can be evil!!!
    I was nice to my last one and she started acting up! She won’t clean properly, always complaining about being sick! Then I found out she was having something to do with the neighbour’s driver!

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  2. This is one topic i talk about all the time. Thanks Tosin for giving us the opportunity to talk about it and learn from hear also. First and foremost, i will say that domestic helps are not necessary evils. They can definitely be excluded from one’s life. It’s going to be a tough way out but for the safety of our kids, ourselves and peace of mind, i believe it pays better. Now if you have to keep a domestic help and you have children, please for your child/children’s sake, decide to make them a CHILD you just adopted PERIOD. It is only natural for humans to want to react badly if treated badly. Personally, i think MOST of this problems you mentioned comes from people treating their domestic helps like trash. Think about it, they have to sleep on the floor while the children sleep on the bed; they get to eat left overs or after everybody has eaten, why not when everybody is eating; some of them don’t even get to eat what everybody else is eating, why is that necessary? I see some come with their domestic help to the mall with their children and the children gets to eat ice cream while the domestic help stares and cleans up after the kids? Who wouldn’t react to that?; Why do they have to dress up so terribly and everybody else is looking spotless? Humans will naturally react to that. etc. Don’t beat them because they did little things especially if you can’t beat your children like that. It’s simply not right? They are humans like everybody else, they just did not get the opportunity to make life better for themselves so they are left with no choice but to become domestic helps. Why make them suffer so much for that??? Now i know, some are thinking “this person must not know how evil this domestic helps are”. Why don’t you try treating them like CHILDREN first. We sometimes have kids that are simply bad, even terrible but we still find a way to deal with the situation better than we would a domestic help. Why does it have to be different? Just do me a favor, look for someone that the domestic help has become a family member and find out what that person did to achieve that and trail in that part with your next domestic help. Now keep in mind that they might have been treated very badly in their previous experience so they are thinking that’s what they are going to get from you also. Please be patient with them for sometime, give them time to adjust, remember you just adopted a child and you are doing this for the sake of your child/children. GET RID OF THEM IF THEY DON’T ACT PROPERLY AFTER YOU HAVE TREATED THEM LIKE YOUR OWN CHILD. Beating them and treating them so badly just gets you and your child/children in more trouble and you hardly ever find out what that trouble is. Think about it, they pee in your drinks, disinfectant in your drinks, beat up your child when you are out, have sex with your young children, and all kinds of other crazy things; Ewwwwwwwww very nasty and retarded things

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  3. Well done Tosnes. I am done with live in house help. It does not matter whether you are nice to them or not, to me most of them are possessed. Ah’ to think that my son almost lost his leg because of house help (cringe). Well I am so done with them (live in ones). If you must have them ( prayerfully ask for them), I think is best to keep being nice to them and keep up your religious obligation. For house help that have come with a mission ( husband snatchers) please ladies sleep with your eyes open

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  4. House helps cant live with them, cant live without them. Where do I start you treat them nicely they mess you up, you are mean to them you are a bad person the stories are endless but I have come to the conclusion that the fact that they are from poor backgrounds and start fending for themselves very early in life exposes them to all manner of things so they pick up all manner of bad stuff when they come to your house no matter how nice you treat them you remain a stranger and all they are interested in is” how to catch you mugu”. If you get a good one most of the time they may be poor but they have had good upbringing from their parents and minimal exposure to the streets.

    So if you have to keep them live in or otherwise it has to be done prayerfully and with your eyes open, be treat them as you would your family members if they don’t respond well to it send them away and move on as they say “soja go soja come barracks no dey empty”.

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  5. Hmmm very interesting topic Tos and interesting contributions too. For me I am done with house helps, so help me God! I have had my own share of experiences both good and bad. The good was short lived though due to the help’s ‘agent’ who came to pluck her away before either myself or the help started enjoying the benefits of being together. She was a very good and obedient girl who took care of my child well. The first time she came I told her to feel at home, gave her a bed to sleep and told her to sit wherever she pleased. But for her she’d rather sit/sleep on the floor or the kitchen chair, her story being that the previous place she worked the ‘madam’ did not give her such luxury. According to her, the madam was so harsh that she beat her mercilessly and reigned curses on her day and night. Also, she claimed she does not receive any of the money she worked for cos her ‘agent’ gets the money and does whatever he pleases with it. I really felt sorry for her and had to sit her down to ‘re-program’ her mind not to continue to live in fear and help her settle and see the other side of life. I had even started her registration into a school when out of the blues, the agent came and ‘snatched’ her away under the guise that she had to go for Christmas holiday. That was the last I saw of her. One of the exceptions to the house help stories.

    So on the other side, the bad experiences were endless, from the one that turned my house to a club house whenever i’m at work (even I don’t know how to operate those techy gadget to play music). Told all sort of lies that could wake the dead, wore my sisters clothes (the height of disrespect) to go outing abandoning my kids at home (scary). Those who made out with all the drivers and the ‘area boys’ in the neighborhood, used my phones to make calls to all manner of people and always remembered to delete the numbers after each call! I even started to think the network providers were fraudulent since i exhausted my postpaid airtime in no time. i didn’t know the evil was in my house! Also the thought that she could have used my phone to even call hired assasins to my house (the thought is scary). It was only God on my side that saved us. Not to talk of those who stole your money and even your peace of mind! All these i experienced, no joke and I know i was never wicked to any of them. Treated them the same way i treated my own, they ate the same food i ate not left overs, slept on a bed, even clothed them so they’d not look any different but like a family member.

    So to my divalady friend who said, “look for someone that the domestic help has become a family member and find out what that person did to achieve that and trail in that part with your next domestic help…”, i would say it is not a function of looking for a good example to emulate, those helps already have a preconceived notion or is it ‘mission’ to execute and most of these missions are bad. No matter how much you treat them like an insider or family, they still see themselves as outsiders and outlaws looking for the next victim to unleash their vengeance. This could be as a result of being torn away from their family to fend for themselves and these family members. But still not an excuse to be on a destructive mission.

    In conclusion, if we can do without these domestic helps, the better and if we feel its a necessity lets prayerfully ask God to bring a good one our way and also treat them right too.

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  6. Tanks Tosne for the article. Immediately I got married, myself nd my hubby decided not to use helps cos of the so many horrors a lot of families have had to go thru. Its nt so easy but my opinion is that its better to be safe than sorry.
    However I ve seen some househelps really kind hearted but I’m nt willing to take the risk.

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  7. This is such a scary one! Why why why? Why would she do something so evil. I do wish she had reported her to the police though because she will go to someone else’s house and do the same thing again.

    God help us all IJN.

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