Watch: Day Laborers & Sexual Harassment in Hassidic Williamsburg
Sometimes it’s important to take a break from talking about gentrification and overpriced lattes to remind ourselves that North Brooklyn is home to both the very rich and the very poor. This short documentary sheds light on a corner in South Williamsburg (Division and Marcy) where female immigrants from Latin countries like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic wait each morning, in hopes that they will be picked up for work by Hassidic Jewish customers that come to find cheap domestic help.
Usually the work these woman are picked up for involves cleaning homes and offices for around $10 per hour, but as the women in the video explain, sometimes they are asked to perform tasks that cross the line to sexual harassment, from bending over while cleaning (and being filmed) to giving massages to male homeowners.
Although the main interviewee in the documentary, Xavier Bosque of the Southside Community Mission, seems to be a bit biased against Hassidic Jews (he faults them for not allowing ham sandwiches in their homes, a extremely important religious rule in their tradition), the film does shed light on this troubling issue that the mainstream press has not covered at all. Bosque is fighting for legislation to protect these woman from unsafe working conditions, but since the majority of them are not legal citizens, legal complications are likely to arise.
The film serves as a reminder of the voiceless minorities who struggle to find work each day, and are willing to put up with abuse in the name of their own survival. And this happens not in a developing nation, but right in our own backyard.
Check it out here, courtesy of Vocativ: