New laws mean Latin America's domestic workers fare better than most

jueves 28 de mayo de 2015 02:00 GYT

By Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA, May 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A young, pretty girl from the countryside seeks a better life in the big city as a domestic worker.

She falls in love with her boss, or his son, and triumphs against the odds to overcome the class divide and lift herself out of poverty.

It's a recurring plot line in Latin American soap operas or telenovelas from Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, watched by tens of millions every day across the region.

Fairytales aside, Latin America's nearly 20 million domestic workers face long working hours, unpaid overtime and verbal abuse by employers, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In general, however, they can expect wages and working conditions superior to their counterparts in the Middle East and Asia.

"I like watching the daily afternoon telenovela and following the love story," said Perla Reyes, a Colombian housemaid, wearing the typical white coat and trouser uniform.

"But I've never known any maid to fall in love with her boss and live happily ever after," she added with a chuckle, as she ironed a pile of clothes.

Given the lack of job opportunities for women and widespread poverty in rural areas, it is not surprising that one in every four women earning a wage in Latin America is a domestic worker.   Continuación...