The COVID-19 has led to the deterioration of the conditions of domestic workers
Another consequence of the pandemic in Latin America has been the deterioration of the conditions of those who work in households.
One of the consequences of the pandemic in Latin America has been the deterioration of a profession that used to be performed in informal and often vulnerable conditions: domestic work.
This is due to a combination of factors: the frequency with which this type of work is carried out on the basis of a verbal agreement, the tendency to consider care work as secondary, the increase in unemployment throughout the region and the fear of employers of catching COVID-19.
Despite the fact that eleven countries in the region have signed up to the International Labour Organization's convention on domestic work, efforts by governments to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on this sector is conspicuous by its absence.
According to BBC Mundo, Argentina is the only country in the region to have implemented subsidy measures for domestic workers. These include a series of awareness campaigns and the allocation, for a single time, of 10,000 Argentinian pesos as Emergency Family Income.
Apart from this policy, the other initiatives that have been notable are private. Such is the case of the campaign #CuidaAQuienTeCuida, promoted by the Centro de Apoyo y Capacitación a Empleadas del Hogar (CACEH), a Mexican organization, and the film director Alfonso Cuarón, the director from Rome.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to grow in Mexico, the campaign has found wide resonance with celebrities such as J Balvin, Mon Laferte, Julieta Venegas and Molotov.
The campaign simply advocates respect for the labour rights of domestic workers and solidarity with a population that generally lives from day to day and is uninsured.
By contrast, there has also been an increase in complaints from women who have been forced to stay permanently in the homes where they work, with much longer hours than permitted by law (sometimes as long as 14 or 16 hours) and subjected to degrading or intimidating treatment.
Such is the story of Alicia, a Colombian domestic worker who was interviewed by BBC Mundo - which changed her name, to protect her privacy. She told them that she was forced by her employer to stay in her home indefinitely during the quarantine, with much longer working hours and to use a separate set of dishes and cutlery from the owners. When Alicia began to feel sick, she was also attacked by the fear of seeking medical help or reporting her situation for fear of unemployment.
The survey "An approach to Covid 19 and its impact on the world of domestic work in Colombia" was carried out by 16 organizations working for the rights of domestic workers and 678 women responded to it. Reading some of their responses, it becomes clear how intense the feeling of uncertainty and helplessness is: "The coronavirus took me by surprise, I had nothing saved. I just hope the health system doesn't collapse for the sake of all of us."