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There are not many worse fates than to find oneself employed as a domestic cook or maid in the African Union.

Local newspapers regularly carry stories of the humiliation and abuse that domestic servants are subjected to at the hands of their employers. Child workers, often related to the families for whom they work, suffer the brunt of the abuse.

There have been cases where domestics servants are confined like animals, beaten brutally and even molested sexually. In some households, workers can eat only what is left over by the family; they sleep on the kitchen floor; they can be beaten up and raped by the boys of the house; and are treated with suspicion by the lady of the house as rivals for the affection of the man of the house.

In many households that would describe themselves as middle class, the workers who labour inside the house often do without regular leave, visitation rights and often even pay. Maids suffer great indignities; many are merely young girls who've been forced to drop out of school because of lack of school fees and are unable to articulate their needs effectively. Domestic employees have the fewest rights of any category of workers.