Certainly you remember a song called “Up with People” which began:
”It happened just this morning, I was walking down the street,
The milkman and the postman and policeman I did meet.
There in ev’ry window and ev’ry single door,
I recognized people I’d never noticed before.”
Perhaps, in the times in which we live, and in our society, everything that happens around us may be less visible, and it is more difficult to experience what this song describes. More and more, in our cities, it is more commun not to know the neighbors who live on our block or the merchants in our neighborhood, or even the woman in the same pew to whom we give the sign of peace.
However, if there is something invisible, it is what really happens within our homes. We could speak of many things in relation to the home environment, but I want to focus on domestic workers and the denial of rights that often happens.
This week in “Red Incola” (NGO in Valladolid in which our congregation participates) they presented a report which was compiled by various institutions of the Jesuit Services to Migrants in Spain (SJM) about situations of vulnerability suffered mainly by migrant women who work in domestic services and the caregiving sector.
There is clear evidence of abuses, the conditions of exploitation and of insecurity in this sector, which is considered subordinate employment. This invisibility is intensified by stereotypes and prejudices against foreign workers, due to their social class, their religion or the country from which they came, and it produces asymmetric social relationships, like paternalism or colonialism.
It is well known that the workers often accept despicable working conditions because they feel that they have no other alternative, and thus they put up with degrading situations, humiliating treatment, and even many forms of violence. Moreover there is a violation of the labor conditions in comparison with other sectors, such as working without a contract, with very long working hours, putting their health at risk, not having time off, and without rights to unemployment benefits.
All these situations of vulnerability must be brought out into the open, in order to visualize them, in order to be more aware of what is happening in our society, in our neighborhood, in our homes, in order to pray for all of these women who work where the rest of us are not able to work
In this way, together we can build a society that is more inclusive, more for everyone, with less inequality, where we do not leave anyone by the wayside, and where we can continue to sing:
“If more people were for people, all people everywhere,
There’d be a lot less people to worry about, and a lot more people who care.”