Schwarzenegger's Maid -- Another Case of Domestic Worker Abuse?

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The revelation that former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had a child with his Guatemalan housekeeper, Mildred Patricia Baena, has more serious implications that the political sensationalism that has been generated on late-night talk shows, writes Humberto Caspa in an opinion column for Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión.

There are many cases of employers who have had sexual relations with their domestic workers, a profession that is among the lowest paid and most exploited, Caspa writes. Yet in many societies, he writes, particularly in developing countries, “abuse of domestic workers is lost under the old mantle of impunity.” Young women who, by economic necessity, go into this line of work can face sexual harassment or abuse; many times, children are born from these relationships. And many of these children, Caspa writes, who are not recognized by their fathers, are the true victims of abuse.

“We don’t know the details and circumstances of the Schwarzenegger case, but it is clear that there was – like it or not –sexual harassment and abuse,” Caspa contends. “At the end of the day,” he writes, “justice in our country, when it comes to the rights of women and domestic workers, isn’t so far from that of closed societies in less developed countries.”

“I don’t think Schwarzenegger will be charged in the regular courts for rape or sexual harassment or abuse at work. His case, however, will be lost,” Caspa concludes, “in the landscape of political sensationalism and television comedy shows.”