Thursday, July 25, 2024
Women Resisting Violence book WRV Collective

Chapter 2: 'Care for those who care' – Domestic workers fight back against violence

This chapter by Marilyn Thomson examines the situations of women working in private households and the different forms of violence they are exposed to in their place of work. It highlights the extent of  intersecting violence and discrimination in the sector and the ways in which domestic workers’ organizations throughout Latin America are raising awareness that they are workers and not maids, in their struggle to defend their rights to equality and decent work. It shows that their voices are being heard not least in the international policy arena.

Common types of violence in domestic work poster. Credit_ CACEH, Mexico

About the author

Marilyn Thomson is an independent gender consultant working on issues such as the rights of migrant and refugee women, violence against women and girls, and the care economy. She lived and worked in Latin America for many years carrying out research and projects with universities, international NGOs, and grassroots women’s organizations, including a domestic workers organization in Mexico. Her PhD thesis focused on the politics of domestic service. She was co-director of the UK-based Central America Women’s Network (which ran from 1992-2017).


Aquino, A.L. (2021), interview with Marilyn Thomson, 1 November, Mexico City (WhatsApp)

Bautista, M. (2022), interview with Marilyn Thomson, 7 April, Mexico City (email correspondence)

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CARE (2021) ‘Informe alternativo Convenio 189 OIT: avances y retos en Centroamérica, México y República Dominicana’, CONLACTRAHO Foro regional Junio,

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CONLACTRAHO (2021) ‘Demanda por la ratificación del Convenio 190 de la OIT’, 23 June,

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Espinosa Giraldo, A. (2001) ¿Hasta cuándo sin educación? Trabajo doméstico infantil en hogares ajenos en Perú. Bogotá: Save the Children

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ILO (2019) ‘C190 – Violence and harassment convention, 2019 (no.190)’,

ILO (2020) ‘Policy brief: ILO violence and harassment convention no.190 and recommendation no. 206’,—ed_dialogue/—actrav/documents/briefingnote/wcms_749786.pdf

ILO (2022) ‘COVID-19: guidance for occupational safety and health for employers and domestic workers’,–en/index.htm

Mlambo-Ngcuka, P. (2020) ‘Violence against women and girls: the shadow pandemic’, 6 April,

Moynihan K. (2020) ‘Filmography’, in: Osborne E. and Ruiz-Alfaro S. (eds.) Domestic labor in twenty-first century Latin American cinema. London: Palgrave Macmillan,

Thomson, M (2021) ‘Organisations | Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)’, Latin America Bureau, 15 October,

UN Women/ILO/CLAC (2020) ‘Domestic workers in Latin America and the Caribbean during the Covid-19 crisis’, Brief V.,—americas/—ro-lima/documents/publication/wcms_751773.pdf

UN Women (2020) ‘Intersectional feminism: what it means and why it matters’,

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