Rural women rushing towards Mumbai for housemaid jobs, a full-time live-in domestic help earns an average Rs 15,000 a month. Many faceless full-time maids in Mumbai who arrive from the tribal belt of Jharkhand, Orissa and even Chhattisgarh as herds of strangers ousted by poverty, joblessness, crop failure and Naxal threat, they alight from trains such as Gitanjali Express and the Howrah Express almost daily in search of jobs in the domestic work sector. Then, armed with Aadhaar cards, pan cards and gram panchayat cards, they appear for interviews at the offices of various maid agencies and, soon, may or may not depart after tasting financial freedom.
In the last six years, the number of such women migrants has almost doubled, according to the National Domestic Workers Federation (NDWF) which pegs the current population of migrants working as full-time maids in Mumbai at 1 lakh. This jump not only reflects the national 51 per cent leap in the number of rural-to-urban migrants between 2001 and 2011 but also lays bare the tendency of women migrants to outnumber men in this shift across India. While aspiration is the chief emotion that pulls women from rural Maharashtra to work as full-time maids in Mumbai.
Anupam Sinhal of Bookmybai.com told Afternoon Voice “It’s desperation that largely defines migrants from the North. Those from Maharashtra want to come to Mumbai and those from the North have to come,” which recently sent out a promotional message that read: “Two fresher female housemaids from Chhattisgarh available in Mumbai. No experience. They can do cleaning work. They cannot do cooking. Salary Rs 10000″. Employers prefer maids from these areas as they typically take leave once a year as opposed to maids from Maharashtra who go on leave every month.
Database of 50,000-odd maids in Mumbai is now made up of migrants from Chattisgarh and Jharkhand. The influx is mostly driven by word-of mouth, friends and fellow villagers. However, the more recent surge in number may also have to do with the fact that Delhi is losing favour among female domestic workers as the preferred workplace owing to lower salaries, exploitative agencies and the dearth of a sense of safety. Mumbai offers a fulltime maid Rs 15,000 too Rs 16000 a month. Delhi gives between Rs 8,000 and Rs 15,000. Moreover, the crime rate in Delhi is high.