Au Pairs Hide the Truth about Their Children
Many Philippine women, working as au pairs in Denmark, leave their ownchildren for several years to take care of other’s.
Many Philippine women working as au pairs in Denmark, leave their own children for several years to take care of other people's children.
Some even admit to having husbands at home, whereby they break the Danish regulations for au pairs.
In a recent survey conducted by Avisen.dk and A4, which included 204 women from the Philippines working in Denmark, 12 admitted to having children at home. The actual number is most likely higher, concludes Helle Stenum from Aalborg University, who has done research on au pairs in Denmark.
Every fourth woman in the survey leaves the question of whether they have children unanswered. Stenum explains that most of them probably do have children, but never talk about them, because they fear their host families would feel uncomfortable if they knew.
Up until now it has been legal to work as an au pair in Denmark while leaving your children in your home country, but the rules are changing. From September 1st, women with children can no longer apply for a position as au pair in Denmark.
Merete Pårensgaard from The Danish Immigration Service’s Office for Au Pairs and Interns explains that the rules are being changed to accord with the intention of the au pair program, which is to give young people a cultural experience before they settle down and have children of their own.
Au pairs leave their children behind
”Charlotte” is a 29-year-old woman from the Philippines, working in Denmark as an aupair. She has left her tree young children back homealmost two years ago.
”Charlotte” is a 29-year-old woman from the Philippines, working in Denmark as an au pair. She has left her three young children back home almost two years ago.
She says she left the Philippines to give them a better life and a better future, and that she is the sole provider forher family. Since she moved to Denmark, she has stayed with four different families.
In her first placement, which was facilitated by an agency in Singapore that Charlotte had to bribe her way into, she had no concept of what an au pair was and was unaware of her rights in Denmark. She worked for more than sixteen hours a day for 1300 DKK a month.
"You can pick your passport up at the police"
When the family moved across the country, Charlotte, who is Catholic, made friends with other au pairs in the Pentecostal Church. They explained that she had the right to a five-hour workday and an allowance of 2500 DKK a months. Realizing that she had been abused, Charlotte left her host family, leaving her passport and return ticket.
A week later, her former employer called to say she could pick up both at a nearby police station. She only found her passport. She says that au pairs need to learn that they have the right to say ”no”.
Taking care of other people's children
Charlotte still works as an au pair in Denmark and sends home a couple of thousand DKK a month. Her children always ask when she will come home. She plans to go back to the Philippines for a while in October,but hopes to return as an au pair in another European country afterwards, most likely Norway.
”I take care of other people’s children, without knowing if anyone takes care of mine,” she says.
“Charlotte” is not the woman’s real name. Avisen.dk knows her full name.
Avisen.dk og Ugebrevet A4 har undersøgt arbejdsvilkårene blandt 204 au pairer.
- De får 51 kr. i timen.
- Ti procent bruger under 100 kroner eller slet ingenting på sig selv.
- 30 pct. arbejder mere end de 30 timer om ugen, reglerne tillader.
Undersøgelsen er udført af Julie Moestrup og Iver Houmark Andersen.
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