Rich families hire cheap domestic workers

27. jun 2010
Summary of articles related to Philippine au pairs in Denmark.

Ariana Ariz Carstensen awaits Maria, a 29-year-old woman from the Philippines at Bellevue Beach north of Copenhagen.

But the appointment gets cancelled.

Maria, who works as an au pair in a Danish family, says she has to babysit for the family.
Carstensen met her at the beach last week, when the au pair contacted her to ask for help. Maria said, she had worked for three weeks without a day off.
Her workdays stretch from early morning to late evening, and she has no time off in the middle of the day either.

This is against the regulations for au pairs in Denmark, in which the young women are only allowed to work for five hours a day, six days a week, unless they give her financial compensation.

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Carstensen is used to hearing these kinds of stories.

Every Sunday, she attends mass at the Pentecostal Church on Drejervej at Nørrebro, where she counsels au pairs from the Philippines.
Carstensen herself came to Denmark from the Philippines as a child in 1986, because her mother had married a Danish man. She speaks perfect Danish, English and two Philippine dialects.
One of the very first au pairs she spoke to told her that she worked 24-7 and had never had a day off. She outlined some of her duties, which included polishing windows on the second floor of a building and cleaning the gutter. Carstensen realized that the woman was being abused, and wrote to the Danish Immigration Service. She never heard back.
She says that many au pairs have children at home, but decide not to tell their host families. Carstensen insists on calling them “aupair-women” instead of the popular Danish term ”au pair-girls”.

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