The women came from different countries with the same dream:
to leave behind the poverty of their villages.
But instead of working as domestic help, they found themselves in a kind of prison,
employed by people who treated them like something less than human.
One was stabbed with a knife, another doused in boiling water, another raped and jailed.
Steve McCurry, best known for his work in war-torn countries like Afghanistan,
documented the suffering of women from Indonesia,
Nepal and the Philippines who endured a myriad of abuses while
working for families elsewhere in Asia and the Middle East.
“They’re at the complete mercy of these people who see them almost like slaves:
‘You’re my property, you’ll do what I say,’” McCurry said.
“They go home, they’re disfigured, they don’t have money,
and they’re psychologically scarred.
They end up going home humiliated, and it becomes a stigma.
In a way, their lives are ruined.”
Steve McCurry, who has spent about 35 years in Asia, came to this project
through Karen Emmons, a Bangkok-based journalist who
became interested in the abuse of domestic workers about
seven years ago, while researching an ILO report in Indonesia.
They visited shelters in Hong Kong and
women back in their home countries:
the Philippines, Indonesia and Nepal,
spending a week in each place.
It is not necessarily a new story.
A Malaysian couple was recently sentenced to be hanged for murdering
their Indonesian maid by starving her,
the latest in a series of headline-grabbing outrages.
Responding to horrific treatment in countries like Saudi Arabia,
the International Labor Organization, or ILO, a branch of the United Nations,
passed a treaty to protect domestic workers in 2011.
Yet the abuses continue, and
only 14 countries have ratified the treaty.
To see the list of countries which have ratified the treaty go to:
“We wanted to tell them that this terrible evil act had to be exposed,
just for humanity’s sake,” Mr. McCurry said.
“ I think if you’ve been wronged like that,
you just want people to know that this happened…”
Text by Kim Barker, New York Times