【照顧者的抗疫日常】前言 [Days and Nights of Family Carers in the Epidemic] Foreword

【照顧者的抗疫日常】前言
[Days and Nights of Family Carers in the Epidemic] Foreword

文︰自治八樓移工共行委員會
migrants solidarity committee autonomous 8a

首刊於草根‧行動‧媒體
first published on grassroots‧action‧media
https://tinyurl.com/yx3e3x9w

今年婦女節,又撞上疫情,讓我們談談照顧者。

Let’s talk about family carers on this coming International Women’s Day in the epidemic.

當街坊深夜排隊買口罩時,有些照顧者離不開需要貼身照顧的家庭成員,看著剩餘的防疫物資發愁。從前家以外的生活,一下子全都壓縮到家裡頭:停課不停學,小孩焗住在家不能外出「放電」,家庭主婦要一邊看著孩子一邊想辦法上街買菜;在職媽媽可能要請假留在家中,在家工作的大人也要煩惱怎麼和小朋友共處,有不能放假的基層工人,索性帶着小孩上班。家人之間磨擦增多,家裡空間夠大的或者還能有私人空間得以喘息,住劏房的則只能擠在一百呎內承受磨擦。家務勞動的擔子也重了幾斤:漂白水、消毒劑侵蝕雙手,洗衫曬衫就耗了半日。疫情在外爆發,家中的壓力也跟著爆炸。

Few masks left. While residents are queuing for surgical masks, some carers are unable to leave the house and their family members of whom require continuous care alone. All of a sudden, the life outside is compressed into the house: Class is suspended but learning must be continued. Children are“locked”at home with no chance to go out and release their energy. Housewives find it difficult to go grocery shopping while looking after the kid. Working mums have to take a leave. Adults working from home have no idea how to continue their work while getting along with the children. Grassroots workers who cannot take a leave might have to take their kids to work. When the conflicts between family members are intensified, you might still breathe if you are lucky enough to just have a bigger enough house which allows your own space, otherwise, you have to endure the conflict in a subdivided house of maybe a hundred square feet. Housework has become heavier: bleach and disinfectant are hurting the hands. Doing the laundry has already cost half a day. The epidemic breaks out, and people are stressed out in the house.

非洲有句諺語,需要整個村莊才養得大一個孩子。其實放之當下也一樣,不論小朋友、老人家、病患、還是不同能力人士,需要整個社會才撐得起這些照顧工作。只是,沒有多少人願意認清這個集體責任——政府更加不會,所以公共托兒、安老、院舍服務的資源就只有這樣少,一個個小家庭唯有自己硬食。這裡先是對照顧工作的輕視。

There is an African proverb: ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. It’s also true here today. It takes a society to support these care work, let it be the care for children, the elderly, patients or people of different abilities. However, not many would like to recognize this collective responsibility, nor would the government. Public care services like child care, elderly care and home services are scarce, so individual families have to take up the responsibility themselves. This is a social depreciation of care work.

而在這些小家庭中背起照顧責任的,大多都是家中的女人。她們是「阿媽」、「師奶」。為何大家會覺得她們理所當然留在家中?難道她們沒有想做的事只懂精打細算柴米油鹽?那為什麼她們的勞動就不是「工作」?為什麼家務勞動無糧出是合理的?這些就是說了幾百年、無數婦女以生命控訴的性別分工不平等。

In these small families, it is nearly always women who bear all the responsibility of care. They are mums and housewives. Why are they supposed to be home? Don’t they have any pursuits of their own but pinching pennies and cooking? Then why their domestic work is not counted as ‘work’? Why unpaid domestic work is justified? These are problems of gender inequality that have been raised for hundreds of years with the costs of countless women’s lives.

有人說不對啊,香港是性別平等的社會,你看現在有多少職場女強人。哦,那是因為還有一種女人叫作「工人姐姐」,有資源的家庭,把家務照顧工作交給了一班離鄉背井的移民家務工(移工)。她們又是什麼人?好端端為什麼要來香港幫人湊仔?自己國家沒有工作嗎?裡頭其實是移工輸出和輸入國之間的利益輸送。香港人對「賓妹/印傭」「聽話/乖巧」的要求,剝削的工資、工時和強制留宿下的居住條件,是連帶着一串由體制至社會對不同種族移民工的歧視,依附在對家務勞動的矮化之上,令人有性別平等的錯覺。

Some may say, no, Hong Kong is a society where men and women are equal. See how many iron ladies in job scene nowadays. Oh, we haven’t mentioned another group of women called “jeje”(a Cantonese term referring to migrant domestic workers by Hong Kong families). Some families have the financial ability to “outsource” the domestic and care work to migrant domestic workers (MDWs), who have left their home and come all the way long to work in Hong Kong. Who are they? Why would they bother to come and look after someone else’s kid? Don’t they have jobs in their own countries? That is a story of the transfer of benefits between labour export and import states. Meanwhile, a series of institutional and social discrimination against migrant workers of different races are happening in Hong Kong: Employers require domestic workers (who they usually use some discriminating words to refer like“piney (Filipino)/indo (Indonesian) servant”) to be obedient/”smart working”. MDWs are exploited in terms of their salary, working hours and living conditions under the compulsory live-in rule. And all of these exploitation are built on the depreciation of domestic work, yet it creates an illusion of gender equality .

大圖像是這樣,但每個照顧者的生命故事都不盡相同,也不是每一個都能在這種敘述下找到位置的。「姐姐」和「太太」除了老闆和工人,還能發展怎樣的關係?還有一眾男照顧者呢?他們在面對什麼?就算公共照顧服務到位了,照顧者和被照顧者各自又能有多少自主?他們在疫情下的生活當然反映著以上錯綜複雜的問題,可是在嘗試消化、應對或反抗的過程裡,他們又打開了怎樣的天地(或通向更多問題的入口)?

The big picture is like that, but the life story of each carer is not the same. Not everyone can fit in such narration. Despite the employment relationship, what else can happen between an “Jeje”MDW and a “Madam”female employer? How about male carers? What are they facing? Given that there are sufficient public services, how much self-determination autonomous can the carer and caree have? Carers’ life in the epidemic reflects the complication above, but what have they explored while processing, reacting to or resisting the problems (if not opening up an entry towards more problems)?

我們本想在婦女節前做一系列訪問,卻發現約訪本身就揭露了很「照顧者」的問題:時間。各位在家中打仗似的,哪有什麼心機和你細說家常?還有一些很心酸的答覆:不能放假的移工無法與我們見面,在僱主家中也難以透過電話暢談心中所想,工傷工友照顧者擔心保險公司探口風,住宿舍的不同能力朋友因為網絡信號差時常斷線。所以我們慢慢來,希望在三八之後,還能延續對照顧者的關注,一起分享這一輪探究。

We planned to conduct a series of interviews before the Women’s Day, but when we tried to contact potential interviewees, we encountered problems that are very typical for carers: time constraint. They are all struggling at home, how could they be free to talk to us? And we also heard some sad responses: An MDW was unable to meet us since she is not allowed to have a day-off. It is also difficult for her to express herself freely through the phone in the employer’s house. A carer for the victim of work accident had concerns on whether we are from the insurance company trying to minimize compensation for the worker. A friend with different abilities living in a residential care home had a bad network connection with frequent drop-offs during the interview. So, we will take it slow. We hope the care for carers can be extended after 8th March and we’ll share our observations and thoughts together with you.

關於「自治八樓」