Au pair Worker in Denmark Fights the Abuse

Ariana Ariz Carstensen helps au pair women to better lives in Denmark. She awaits a 29-year-old woman from the Philippines at Bellevue Beach north of Copenhagen, but the appointment gets cancelled.

The 29 year old, who works as an au pair in a Danish family, says she has to babysit for the family and can’t make it.

Carstensen met her at the beach last week, when the woman contacted her to ask for help.

The woman said, she had worked for three weeks without a day off. Her workdays stretch from early morning to late evening, and she has no time off in the middle of the day either.

This is against the regulations for au pairs in Denmark, in which the young women are only allowed to work for five hours a day, six days a week, unless they get economical compensation.

Carstensen is used to hearing these kinds of stories. Every Sunday, she attends mass at the Pentecostal Church on Drejevej at Nørrebro, where she councils aupairs from the Philippines. Carstensen herself came to Denmark fromthe Philippines as a child in 1986, because her mother had married aDanish man. She speaks perfect Danish, English and two Philippinedialects.

One of the very first au pairs she spoke to, told her thatshe worked 24-7 and had never had a day off. She outlined some of herduties, which included polishing windows on the second floor of abuilding and cleaning the gutter.

Carstensen realized that the womanwas being abused, and wrote to the Danish Immigration Service.

She never heard back. She says that many au pairs have children at home, but decide not to tell their host families. Carstensen insists oncalling them “au pair-women” instead of the popular Danish term ”aupair-girls”.


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