Some of the worst human beings are the ones that take advantage of those who are poor and vulnerable, who are often hidden in the shadows or behind closed doors. Bernice Yeung investigated this netherworld, and has written “In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers”. This book invites the reader to think about things that most of us never consider. Such as, who picked that apple I am about to take a big bite out of? Or, who emptied the trash and cleaned the floor of the office I am going to enter this morning? What kind of abuse, if any, do these workers have to endure to keep their jobs? Many are in desperate need of any kind of employment and will do what they have to do to keep getting a paycheck. Which makes them vulnerable to all kinds of mistreatment, from being stiffed on pay, to submitting to a deviant supervisor’s desires. Abused workers could simply quit or report the abuse, however, to a person trying to feed and care for a family, quitting or reporting are not always clear options. “In a Day’s Work” makes the point that these abuses should not be considered all “in a day’s work” or in any sense part of the job, and those that do unpleasant but necessary work deserve all of the workplace protections that everyone else has and takes for granted.
This book is really an eye opener. I had no idea the extent of sexual harassment and violence in these industries and primarily to undocumented women. It is discouraging to read that only 2% of rape cases result in felony convictions. It is encouraging that with education, resources and patterning professional behavior things can improve. I am grateful to the tireless workers who get no thanks and very little pay for their hard work in terrible conditions. I hope that by talking about this subject people will look out for domestics that are trafficked and say something, I hope that the women who do speak up will get help and that men who do the harassment will be asked how they would feel if someone were doing that to their wives, sisters and daughters.
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