Before that house girl/maid dies in your hands

Indeed, life is evolving and mankind is steadily and readily fashioning out more creative and innovative ways not to be overwhelmed or consumed by some not-too-convenient existential situations or events like working and taking care of the home-front at the same time.

Modern day life has somewhat made it almost necessary for families to take in maids or nannies to help with daily chores in their homes. In every home, especially in cities, where women pursue their careers through paid jobs or as business tycoons, the services of such people are always needed to help out at home.

We have had personal experiences of engaging like three of them since we started having kids, and I can tell for a fact that one requires a huge dose of understanding, self restraint and patience to manage and cope with them under your roof. They can be a handful at times. They can drag you to your wits’ end, suck all the positive energy in you and leave you drained, empty and exhausted.

I have equally heard very shocking stories about some behind-the-scenes atrocious acts that some perpetrate when left alone at home. Some invite their boyfriends/sex partners over, beat up kids or drug kids to sleep. Others have the audacity to equally sneak out to hangout with their men as well as secretly take out valuables from their employers’ homes to undisclosed locations, especially when their employers are away.

Well, it isn’t all gloomy and wicked stories about them. Some of them are quite excellent, sincere, caring, homely and very good, but these ones are rare.

But a true life story a colleague shared with me in the office a day ago has left me thinking and deeply worried. It was the story of a maid who, unfortunately, died in the custody of her employers somewhere here in Abuja, Kuje to be precise. Since it is a case that is still in court, it would be prejudicial to reveal the names and identities of the suspects here.

It goes thus. Jumoke Ismail (not real name) was brought in from the South West as a maid to her employers. Her job required her to clean the house, do laundry, bath the kids, wash the dishes and even assist in the kitchen, when necessary. Sadly, Jumoke didn’t have the best of relationship with her employers, especially her madam who serially rained insults on her and even beat her up with horsewhip (Koboko) sometimes over little or major mistakes. Jumoke suffered different forms of abuse daily like being starved, locked out or made to work under the scorching sun. Her story wasn’t new to neighbours and family members of her bosses. She was known in the estate as the hardworking, but unlucky maid. Strangely, while she was hated at home, she was the darling of neighbours who liked the fact that she was humble and hardworking.

Then came the evil and unfortunate day! As usual, Jumoke had attended to one of the girls who just defecated. Against the directive of her madam, Jumoke used cold water to wash the little girl’s bum. On discovering this, hell was let loose! Madam descended heavily on Jumoke, physically and verbally. She neither gave her a chance to say a word nor an opportunity to plead for forgiveness. She turned her into a punching bag and left her face battered in seconds.

A terrified Jumoke, in a confused mood, ran to Madam’s husband to save her from his wife’s debilitating punches. Sadly, when the madam eventually “explained” what Jumoke did to their girl, the man landed a heavy punch on Jumoke and she collapsed! The couple didn’t stop at that, they kept on beating her in her state of unconsciousness. On discovering that the case was real and Jumoke wasn’t faking it, they rushed her to a hospital in their neighbourhood. Sadly, after careful examination at the hospital, Jumoke was pronounced dead by the doctor!

Her painful and very avoidable death marked the beginning of the couple’s journey to Armageddon and troubles. In connivance with some highly placed persons, they hurriedly buried Jumoke, citing her Islamic background as the reason for the quick burial. But they had it all wrong. Given the suspicious circumstances surrounding her death, the hospital management secretly conducted an autopsy on her remains before releasing them for burial. The result of the autopsy revealed that Jumoke had broken ribs and fractured neck. Three of her ribs were badly broken, had fresh wounds on her back and scars on her chest.

Well, late Jumoke’s spirit isn’t resting. Everyone is interested in her case. They all want nothing but justice for her. The Federal Government, Police, NAPTIP and Human rights and advocacy groups aren’t dropping the gauntlet. The couple was taken to court afterwards and charged for murder. Though the case was amended and the woman got a reprieve, thereby leaving her husband as the major suspect.

As you read through these lines, the man who couldn’t control his anger has been languishing in Kuje Correctional Centre (Prison) in Abuja for almost a year now! The long arm of the law has caught up with him. This is the price for untamed, uncontrolled and excessive anger!

People, any time you realise that you can no longer tolerate the nasty behaviours or conduct of your maids, please, just quickly return them to their families. Don’t force them to stay with you, especially when you know how they drive you to your wits’ end daily. Take them home alive, don’t let them die in your hands.

Abdullahi Yunusa writes from Garki, Abuja


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