Recently, I came across a picture on social media showing a family eating at a restaurant, while their domestic help sat separately nearby without any food. The post has stirred up a bit of controversy, and rightfully so.
This is nothing new in our society. For as long as I can remember, I have seen this happen more times than I could count. Many well-off people take their domestic help to restaurants and social events, mostly so that their children can be taken care of while they eat and enjoy their time with friends and family. The help is not allowed to sit at their table, and are often not given food. Even when they do get a bite or two to eat, it is usually the leftovers.
There are so many glaring problems with this practice. Firstly, in doing so we are denying these fellow human beings – people who tend to our chores and practically raise the children of our families – their dignity. It sends out a message loud and clear that we, the seemingly educated and civilised, are superior to them. We are discriminating against them by refusing them equality as we make them sit separately and not give them the same food we are having.
Stop and think for a moment, how would you feel if you were on the receiving end of such treatment, that too in a public place? Unfortunately, the domestic help are not in a position to say anything due to their socioeconomic status. Their livelihoods depend on being in the good books of the people who treat them as subhuman. Hence, even when not treated with respect, they don't react the way you and I would.
But there's more to this horrendous practice than meets the eyes. The children we leave with the domestic help are exposed to this kind of behaviour. As a result, they grow up thinking that this is the norm, and that this kind of behaviour is socially acceptable. In essence, we're planting the seeds of discriminatory attitude in the next generation.
While the public discrimination of the domestic help in restaurants and social events is common, times are changing. There are compassionate people who refrain from such awful practice and treat domestic workers with respect. The good news is, their number is growing. And that is how it should be.
We have a long way to go. It doesn't really take much to be respectful. People working for you are also people, with feelings as you have. Just because fate has not rationed out the resources to them fairly, doesn't mean that we can't do our small bit.
Arman R. Khan is an engineer, a caffeine addict, a dreamer and a culture enthusiast who takes life one day at a time. Follow him on Instagram @arman_rk or send love at firstname.lastname@example.org