Makeda Silvera - Hyacinth
Submitted By aksme
Hyacinth was a domestic live-in worker who was sponsored by a couple she met when working back in St. Lucia. Shortly after arriving to Canada, she was propositioned for sex and when declined raped by her employer. Unfortunately, the acculturation of some Caribbean immigrant women discourages them from challenging their employers’ authority. Even though Hyacinth’s white male employer raped her multiple times, she pretended everything was okay and did not tell immigration. Hyacinth was fearful of jeopardizing her immigration status which was the dominant factor constraining her assertion of her rights to report what happened. She was used as a sexual object by her white male employer who envisioned black women as hyper-sexual and knew nothing about the value of marriage. Hyacinth felt threatened as her employer said he would have her sent back to St. Lucia or go to jail if she told anyone so she felt helpless and scared. She was verbally and physically attacked , and even the male employer’s wife refused to recognize the practice of rape for what it was. Live-in domestic workers are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and harassment by virtue of having to live on the premises. Hyacinth didn’t have many friends so she was isolated and suffered in silence. She was treated like a “lower class of human” and when she was brave enough to confront immigration, nothing came of it and her employer, to her surprise, did not get in trouble.
Things were looking up for Hyacinth when she met her next employer who coordinated counselling for Hyacinth to help deal with the rape and truly seemed interested for her well-being. Her new employer, who happened to be a female Lawyer, advocated for her so Hyacinth finally felt like she had someone on her side. The lawyer assisted with Hyacinth’s enrolment in college which helped her realize how quickly things can change. She didn’t expect life in Canada as a black women to be so hard. Sadly, her good luck didn't last so long as her employer moved away. She only took her current job because she was constantly being bugged by immigration. Her current job has consumed her whole life and has drained her emotionally. She can no longer go to school because of the long hours she works. She remains silent about her treatment, even though she knows the government’s stance on employers giving their employees time off. Her motivation to remain silent is to get her landed status so that she may be better able to provide for her family back home.