Devyani Khobragade, the deputy consul general for political, economic, commercial and women’s affairs at the Indian Consulate General in New York City, is facing charges after being accused of paying her full-time babysitter just $3.31 an hour and lying on a visa application.
Federal prosecutors claim the full-time babysitter from India worked for Khobragade in New York City for about 7 months at more than 40 hours a week. […] “Foreign nationals brought to the United States to serve as domestic workers are entitled to the same protections against exploitation as those afforded to United States citizens,” U.S. Attorney for Manhattan Preet Bharara told the New York Daily News. […]
The U.S. Attorney’s office said the counts against Khobragade carry a maximum combined 15 years in prison.
Yes, exploiting your nanny is wrong. Even if she’s not a citizen. Let’s zoom in on that quote:
Foreign nationals brought to the United States to serve as domestic workers are entitled to the same protections against exploitation as those afforded to United States citizens.
So then why does the State Department run the Au Pair program outside the auspices of the Labor Department, resulting in the hidden exploitation of foreign domestic workers?
In an article published by the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender last spring, law professor Janie Chuang wrote:
During a weekly play date with my kids, Paola, a young Venezuelan woman who cared for my friend’s two children, broke down in tears. Visibly exhausted, Paola confided to me that in addition to caring for the children 75 hours a week during the day, she was responsible for waking up four to six times every night to care for the colicky infant. For her labor, she was paid less than minimum wage per hour and for only a fraction of the hours she had actually worked.
[I thought] because au pairs are participants in an official State Department program and thus are subject to government oversight, they presumably have within their grasp—unlike other domestic workers—ready means of obtaining redress for abuse.
I was wrong. […] The discourse and structure of this government-sponsored “cultural exchange” program render au pairs a worker population hidden from formal labor scrutiny.
Glad the DOJ is hard at work policing the exploitative practices of Indian diplomats! Because in America, foreign nationals can’t be placed in exploitative working conditions as childcare providers. That simply wouldn’t be legal, would it?