Pakistan celebrates having left behind India’s caste system. However, the truth of the matter is that the classism entrenched in Pakistani society is just as bad as its Eastern neighbor’s.
The servant quarter, for instance, is symbolic of the classism seen in an average Pakistani home. While domestic workers, often referred to as servants (which is a gross violation of Pakistan’s labor laws) are given their own quarters, they are usually disproportionately small compared to the other rooms of the house. Living in cramped spaces without ACs and sometimes without fans, workers then have to deal with inconsiderate comments of not smelling nice and maintaining good hygiene, which is often difficult to do considering the conditions they live in.
Domestic workers are frequently also relegated to a separate set of utensils. In fact, workers often also drink a different, cheaper type of water. In most households, domestic workers are expected to sit down on the floor, with employers becoming offended if they sit on the sofas – the classism really can’t get much worse than this.
But this blatant display of classism is usually justified by quoting a lack of resources. In some cases, this makes sense, but if a family can afford 4 ACs, does that not mean that it can just as easily afford 5?
What exacerbates the problem is that these workers are often not paid enough for the sacrifices they make and to justify the amount of duties heaped upon them. Simply put, they are exploited but never realize it; there is no concept of a guaranteed minimum wage. Rather, this culture of employing unskilled, uneducated “help” that works around the clock is just that: a culture. It is not a regulated industry with designated work hours and contracts in which workers know their rights. Furthermore, it ensures that workers have very limited upward social mobility and keeps them and their families trapped in an endless cycle of poverty.
Giving workers the bare minimum just doesn’t cut it; it only contributes to the classism already deeply entrenched in society. The working class deserves better, especially if Pakistan claims to be above India’s caste system.