The arrest of Dominique Strauss Kahn has highlighted the sexual harrassment faced by women maids in New Yorks top hotels
"Most guys who stay at these establishments are high-class businessmen. They have the money and the power to do whatever they please and think they can get away with anything,"
"Cleaning staff are reluctant to complain because they are afraid that the hotels will not back them up under the theory "the customer is always right".
But for many hotel maids, finding a new job is not an option. Some are undocumented, while others are in the United States on a work visa that ties them to a specific contract. Both situations make these workers vulnerable to long hours, low wages and in some cases, physical or sexual abuse.
Around 11 AM, as a part of the regular campaign activities, the women activists entered the zone, and continued their protest peacefully stating that the Constituent Asssembly cannot be dissolved, and the Constitution has to be promulgated on stipulated time. However, the Police intervened, and started abusing the women in foul languages; one of the activists claim that" it was a way to destroy our spirit, and insult and harass us for just being women."
Despite the call for a nationwide strike by a respective political party, the Women's Campaign for Democratic and Progressive Constitution defied this call, and continued their campaign for the 23rd Day.
The campaign is led by 7 women's network involving different sections of women's movement, under one umbrella as Women's Campaign for Democratic and Progressive Constitution. The movement constitutes of Defenders advocating for different thematic issues such as equality and non discrimination in the areas of disability, sexual orientation, land rights, squatter rights, natural resources and workers rights respectively.
This morning, the government had declared the areas around the Constituent Assembly as "a Prohibited Zone". And stated No one is allowed to organize any forms of protest around the area.
The first group of 21 Women Human Rights Defenders entered the zone, and protested peacefully. The Police intervened, and started baton charging the women. Most of the women sustained injuries, while one Defender who was standing behind the group was chased all the way outside of the Prohibited zone, and when she tried to take seek refuge inside the house, she was mercilessly dragged out, and charged repeatedly with batons.
All the 21 Defenders were arrested and then detained at the Baneshwor Police Station. Some of the injured have been taken to the hospital upon the request made by the activists to the Police Personnels.
Late each night, Rizwana Bib* opens the metal box she keeps under her bed to check on her stash of drugs and pops a pill so she can catch some sleep.
“I began soon after I was married, because I was so unhappy,” she said. “My husband is violent. I keep the drug use a secret from him and our three children, though my nine-year-old son sometimes goes to the pharmacy to buy the `medicines’ I ask him to get.
“I tell him they are to help my headaches.”
The 30-year-old mother has been using benzodiazepines (a class of compounds used as tranquillizers) and narcotics for the last 10 years.
Like her, thousands of married Pakistanis of reproductive age are addicted to drugs, a problem that has taken a serious toll on families, according to Uzma Ahmed, a health visitor who offers advice to women in a community on the outskirts of Lahore.
“There are women I know who use drugs,” Ahmed said. “Often they are terrified their husbands will beat them if they find out. The drug use has a highly negative impact on families, especially the children who sometimes see their mothers smoke, or swallow pills and fall asleep for hours. Some want to give up, but where do they go for help?”