- Gender and Relationships
Of the Raj, Maids and Mistresses from Bangladesh
The Maid culture and India
The Raj was one factor in Indian history, which has no parallel. It was in some ways a benign rule and some ways an autocratic rule wher the British rulers were the sahibs. Not withstanding this, what ever we see from Mumbai Central station, tothe postman, the rail and roads are an enduring gift of the Raj.
The Raj left a lot behind and most have endured. The Raj also left behind the maid mistress culture. What was this culture? This culture involved hiring maids, who in the absence of the wife also served as willing mistresses of the gora sahibs (white masters). This was more a necessity as the wives went to home (England) and were away for months. Voyages took weeks at that time. Add to this the lonely and remote areas where the English man worked and the result is a foregone conclusion. The maids were welcomed into the arms of the sahibs. This isthe genesisof some Anglo-Indians as some maids conceived.
The Raj went into history, but maid culture like other things also stayed back. The new elite now took over from the sahib and the maid mistress culture continued. This has been given another dimension with the advent of the maid fromBangladesh.Bangladesh is like a waste paper basket and the masses are poor. This generates its own pressures and the result is large scaleillegal migrationto India. TheBangladeshwomen and girls who come to India are poor and unskilled.
The vast influx of unskilledBangladeshwomen and girls makes them fit for only work as maids. Here also their knowledge of the nuances of working as maid leaves a lot to be desired. But then these girls are not averse tosleeping withthe master. This is more the rule than the exception. There is no doubt that this is exploitation, but that is the fact of life. MostBangladeshmaids end up with the master in bed.
The wives when they learn about it make a hue and cry and sometimes they terminate the maid’s services, but the new one is no better. Sex is something that cannot be ignored and maids fromBangladeshare prone to it. During thedays of theRaj most maids loved to sleep with the English master, this has not changed. TheBangladeshmaid’s mostly illegal migrants are shielded and given food, shelter and clothing. The police can’t get to them as the master covers them, but the price issleeping withthe master. I don’t condone it, but it is a fact of life