Ni domésticas ni putas : sexual harassment in the lives of female household workers in Monterrey, Nuevo León




Siller Urteaga, Lorena

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Sexual violence and in particular sexual harassment is an unfortunate reality in the lives of millions of Mexican women. We encounter this problem in all areas of our life: on the streets, within our families, and at work. Interestingly, some women's experiences of sexual harassment are less visible than others. This is the case of women in the occupation of paid household work. In Mexico, the fact that women household workers are sexually harassed or raped by their male employers has been silenced and at best kept as an open secret. In addition, researchers who have studied the lives of household workers barely mention it. Consequently, this master's thesis answers the following research questions: (1) Are women domestic workers vulnerable to sexual harassment? Why? and, (2) What are the social and cultural factors responsible for such vulnerabilities? I engage with these research questions by exploring the life histories of 11 women from Monterrey, Nuevo León and who have at least 5 years of working experience in the occupation, through in-depth interviews. Based on what the women shared with me I offer a collection of individual life stories followed by a feminist informed analysis of their experiences. Each story is unique and presents their views and perceptions of sexual harassment in the occupation and elsewhere. The analysis is divided in five mayor themes, which emerged in all of the interviews and explain the problematic. Although they enter the occupation knowing there are potential risks, one of which is sexual harassment, they are unable to change occupations due to limited work options. I argue that their social positionalities stemming from their gender, race, and class puts these women in a vulnerable position vis-a-vis their employers. As working class women, some from indigenous backgrounds, their employers engage in different types of discrimination, all of which construct women household workers as the other and their bodies as rapeable. At last, women blame themselves and others who have been targets of sexual harassment while freeing men from any type of accountability.



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