Muslim domestic workers in India changing names out of fear

by | Sep 8, 2022 | World

New Delhi, India – Munni Begum was 10 when her mother made her drop her last name. At that time, she did not understand why. She often accompanied her mother and grandmother as they juggled multiple cleaning, cooking and caregiving jobs in the Indian capital, New Delhi.But it was only when Begum, now in her late 50s, started doing domestic work herself that she learned that all the women in her family had to pick up Hindu-sounding names at their workplaces in order to survive.
“They just won’t hire us,” she told Al Jazeera. “They hated us Muslims. Some of them said it to our face that we are bad people. So, Munni was a name that went well with both [Hindu and Muslim] communities.”
Begum recalls her widowed mother would go to work wearing a sari and bindi that are traditionally associated with the Hindu culture. “And my sister used to work even on Eid al-Fitr to avoid suspicion,” she said.
Having worked for more than 40 years as a domestic worker, Begum said she faced discrimination and insults at many Hindu and Jain households. She said she was turned away at many homes because of her Muslim identity.
“I had to raise my children on my own, my husband didn’t support me at …

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