In this report, the researcher presents the findings of a study investigating the factors behind mistreatment of maids by their employers. The study was carried out from November 1994 to February 1995 in Nakuru Municipality, Nakuru District. Realizing that there is no one overall theory of exploitation and aggression, the study was based on two theoretical perspectives; the theory of aggression and the Marxist Social Class Theory. A number of distinct areas were covered in the literature review, including the entire realm of domestic violence where aggression and general mistreatment of maids lie. It was found that literature on domestic violence is dominated by a few strands of thought. These include child abuse, spouse battering, incest, abuse of the elderly and marital rape. General literature on maids’ predicaments was reviewed and this includes employers’ suspicion on maids, maids’ salaries, maids and discipline, their ignorance on their own rights and privileges and emotional insecurity. Literature on maids outside the Kenyan context was also reviewed, as well as the provisions of the law on general mistreatment.
The study assumed ‘prima facie’ that maids cannot be aggressors, hypothesizing that maids background together with the characteristics of the employer constitute the key factors that explain the maids' tribulations. The research design was an intra-municipality survey. An interview schedule was developed as the principal research instrument and this was administered to a total of 104 maids in 10 residential estates, their respective 104 employers and 14 children in some of the families. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected, and the Gamma coefficient was used in analyzing the data. Data were presented in simple frequencies and cross-tabulation tables. The following were the major findings:
1. Higher achiever maids in terms of formal education have an easier life than those with very low or no education at all.
2. Maids who have the same religion and ethnicity as the employer are more vulnerable to acts of mistreatment than those who differ in these respects. Those who are related to the employer by blood, marriage or adoption are the most hit by the incidence of mistreatment.
3. There is a continuum with respect to intensity of mistreatment from single maids through single mother maids to the married maids. Married maids are mistreated the least.
4. Marital status of the employer influences mistreatment of maids in the following order: divorced employers are the most aggressive followed by the never-married, then the married. Widowed employers are the least known in mistreating maids.
5. Low education of employers leads to low salaries for maids, although it does not necessarily bring about other aspects of mistreatment.
The study concludes that different backgrounds of maids bring about different levels of mistreatment, and that the socio-economic characteristics of the employer constitute a major factor in mistreatment. The study recommends a change of attitude by employers towards maids.
- domestic violence,
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jospetermbuba/46/