Domestic workers in Ecuador need to respect their work to change attitudes, according to a long-term live-in help. Lenny Quirós, 48, has been a domestic worker for more than 20 years but chooses never to work more than two years for the same employer as a puertas a dentro, or “behind-doors”, as a live-in help is called.
Victoria Jiménez is one of 10 children. By the age of five, she knew how to wash, cook, clean and look after those younger than her. At 12 her mother, unable to provide for her, left Jiménez and her sister in the house of a seamstress to work in exchange for clothes. It was then, as a domestic worker, that she first encountered abuse.
In a bungalow in suburban Santiago a heavily pregnant woman is lying on a bed of grass. Dressed in her nightgown her face is tranquil; a few beads of sweat gathering at her temples the only sign of a concealed distress. On closer inspection the greenery is arranged in ritualistic fashion, sticks of celery fanning out around the body of the woman like a halo, and as the camera pans down the expectant mother’s body a splash of red flashes across the screen.