Sexual exploitation of house maids worsening

CCCD Zimbabwe
4 min readApr 3, 2022


By Regis Nhumba

Sinethemba Skhosana (27) says she worked as a living in house maid for a family in Kingsdale, Bulawayo. She says her hopes of finally earning an income to support her family abruptly ended when she was raped by one of her employer’s sons.

The rape shocked Sinethemba and she says that she is still haunted by the incident. The drama that followed when her employer discovered that she was pregnant by their son, who was 8 years older than Sinethemba makes her regret the decision of no reporting to the police.

It all started in 2016 when I got a job with a family in Kingsdale. I liked my job and my employer was happy with my work. The pay was good, the family seemed good and I thought my life was taking a better direction,” says Sinethemba.

Her job mainly involved cleaning the whole house, doing laundry and cooking. These chores ensured that she was in close conduct with all family members.

A few weeks after starting her job, Sinethemba says she was shocked when her employer’s last born son Prince started to propose love to her. She says she was terrified to give any response to the proposal for fear of reprisals from the son if she turned him down or the parents if she accepted.

Initially I just ignored his proposals. I did not want to offend him for fear that he would make my life difficult. After a while, I gathered enough strength to turn down his proposal. He did not seem to accept my decision and continued to pester me whenever he got the opportunity,” says Sinethemba.

One day, Sinethemba says her employer and other family members left home to go to town leaving her and Prince alone.

A few minutes after everyone had left, Prince came to the kitchen and started to pester me about how beautiful I was and how he wanted me to be his girlfriend. I told him that I was not interested to get into a relationship with him,” narrates Sinethemba.

Sinethemba says as they were talking, Prince just moved towards her and grabbed her. She says that she tried to extricate herself from him to no avail.

I tried to push him away but he was much stronger than me. He then raped me and when I tried to scream for help, he was strong enough to shut my mouth. The rape was traumatic for me and I vowed to tell his parents as soon as they got back home,” says Sinethemba.

When Prince’s parents arrived back home, Sinethemba quickly told them what had happened. She says she anticipated that the parents would take action but instead, they begged her not to report on the promise that their son would marry her.

Sinethemba says she agreed not to report and conceded to the marriage arrangement. She says the marriage was fraught with problems as her now husband continued to behave as if he was still single. She adds that Prince had sexual relationships with other girls and treated her as his maid.

Working as a maid in Zimbabwe and across the globe is increasingly becoming a risky job as maids are often subjected to sexual abuse. Kudzai Moyo (42) who once worked as a maid in Bulawayo says her employer was always making sexual advances at her although he was married and was staying with his wife and children.

I worked as a maid for one year and I am still traumatised by my experience as a maid. My employer was always passing comments that were sexually suggestive. At times he would rub himself on me and at one time he tried to kiss me. I made it clear to him that I was not interested in those things but he never listened,” says Kudzai.

Kudzai says when she realized that she might be raped, she packed her bags and left without notice. Kudzai says due to the high levels of unemployment, many girls resort to working as house maids. However, the violence perpetrated on housemaids in the country and beyond is forcing women to find alternative sources of income such as vending.

I have heard so many cases of Zimbabwean maids in South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who have been subjected to inhumane treatment. It is no longer safe to be a house maid. There is need for laws that protect domestic workers so that they do not experience the violence,” says Kudzai.



CCCD Zimbabwe

Creative Centre for Communication and Development, Zimbabwe