In the modern age, domestic housework is often relegated to women from disenfranchised socio-economic backgrounds.
With reportedly low wages, unfavourable working conditions and even abuse, these women are expected to be grateful just to have a job.
There are no federal laws protecting “domestic servants”. This is indentured servitude. And she’s selling this as a cute story when it’s an absolute tragedy. pic.twitter.com/VuliPqRg7V— Suki’s Mom (@zukosmadre) May 17, 2023
In a video that has gone viral, an American TikTok user, lexie_jayy shared a story of their family’s worker going home for the first time after 30 years of living and working with them.
According to the clip, Elena, the woman in question, who appears to be elderly, decided that she wanted to go back home to the Philippines for good six months ago.
‘’She got me ready for my first day of pre-school, moved me into my college dorm and everything in between, so taking her back to the Philippines was not something I wanted to do more,’’ said lexie_jayy.
She added that she sacrificed not raising her son and daughter to get a job in the US and ‘’send every dollar she had back home to her family’’.
The TikTok user also said that Elena was a hard worker who had been through hell. ‘’Yet somehow she is the smiliest and happiest person I have ever met.’’
When it was time to take Elena to the airport, Lexie said it was the worst heartbreak of her life. The pair flew to the Asian country together.
She asked herself if Elena’s family would take care of her and if the woman would feel homesick for the US.
When asked on the platform why she never even went to visit family by another user, Lexie said that her immigration lawyers advised the mother of two not to go home and also told her children not to visit, adding that it was her choice to stay as long as as she did.
This video did not receive a positive response from netizens who speculated that Elena was essentially an indentured servant.
Indentured servitude is a type of labour whereby a person is hired to work for no pay for a certain number of years. Although not slavery, similarities are often pointed out between the two.
Other social media users accused Lexie’s family of having plotted to keep Elena in the US by letting her visa expire and not registering her as an employee which would have made her be in the country illegally and be in fear of consequences from law enforcement.
There is one reason for this and one reason only: she did not have a work visa. So this family employed her for 30 years, did not sponsor her as an employee to help her regularize her migration status, and let her visa expire.— Troop Exploder (@BadEmpanada) May 18, 2023
In 2017, Alex Tizon’s My Family’s Slave story got published in The Atlantic. In it, he described how his family kept, Eudocia Tomas Pulido, an Asian woman a slave for 56 years.
‘’She was 18 years old when my grandfather gave her to my mother as a gift, and when my family moved to the United States, we brought her with us. No other word but slave encompassed the life she lived.
‘’Her days began before everyone else woke and ended after we went to bed. She prepared three meals a day, cleaned the house, waited on my parents, and took care of my four siblings and me. My parents never paid her, and they scolded her constantly,’’ he wrote.