A Hyderabad housing society fines domestic help and delivery persons for using the main lift. This has stirred major debate on social media. While many defended it on the grounds of COVID-19 protocols, others condemned the age-old practice of discrimination against house help.
Photojournalist Harsha Vadlamani recently posted a notice from a Hyderabad housing society on Twitter which fined the domestic help and delivery persons for using the main lift, “If maids, drivers or delivery boys use main lift Rs. 300/- will be fined,” the notice said.
Many people defended this move on the grounds of COVID-19 protocols, saying that it could be a precautionary measure to prevent the virus spread. Others defended it by saying that it might be a sanitary measure as the domestic help is likely to spit and dirty the lifts often. One user while pointing out the ‘main lift’ clause wrote, “Its mentioned “Main lift ” so there must be another Lift Also, in covid times many societies have banned entrance of maids/Milkmen/vendor ..reason being their exposure .. and lift is a very sensitive place due to everyone touches the buttons …hence the precaution.”
Many expressed that it is a discriminatory practice and support the age-old tradition of othering the house help by separating utensils, using separate entrances and demarking separate areas of living.
Even if separate lifts have been allotted for the domestic help, they are bound to enter the premises and houses and the virus can be spread anyways. Allotting separate lifts only counts as segregating the domestic helpers from the urban residents and propagates the problematic notion that the people living in such buildings are somehow better than the people they get help from.
There have been many cases of discrimination and abuse against the domestic workers simply on the grounds of economic status and class differences. In recent news, a resident from Greater Noida was booked by the Police for slapping his domestic worker after the two got involved in an argument.
The employers use their privilege of status and class to exploit and discriminate against the domestic help without which our life can become messier, as most of us has already experienced during the pandemic. As much as we like to assert our privilege over those who are deprived, it is important to be humane and humble with them for the sake of being human.