One job, three salaries
The demographic expansion of the world nowadays raises the problem of unemployment which becomes more and more worrying. Having a remunerate and decent job becomes rare. So, for some people to survive deliver themselves to small jobs of smartness as the one of barmaid. The majority of girls going to this job are not out of after-effects. As much the job of barmaid has its risks, as much it contains some advantages. It is one of the rare jobs giving way to numerous salaries and girls practicing this job are generally about three salaries.
Barnabas Orou Kouman
Very long time of working, low salary, exposed to vexations and sexual harassment, been object of ridicule of population and many others are the daily living of barmaids. Despite all those behaviors toward them, numerous are young girls and women of different age going to this job. Formerly exerced only by foregners mainly Togolese, nowadays, it is not uncommon to see Benenese integrate the job of barmaid. In search of good living condition, they are enrolled by bars owners by a simple job interview without any written contract/agreement.
Three salaries for a job
A barmaid as any worker deserves a salary paid by her employer. It is a leagal and negociated salary between the employee and the employer perceived generally monthly according to the verbal agreement established by the two parties.
The second salary of barmaids is tips. It is changes that clients give to barmaids in a sign of gratefulness and encouragement. It varies from a client to another and from a day to another. The level of a tip depends on the attendance of the client and the reception of the barmaid. The tip requires no explanations to the bar’s manager or promoter.
The third salary of a barmaid is the one related to her relations with clients. In fact, barmaids are lusted after by clients. Many men do not waste time in wooing barmaids just to have a night with them. They spend bills on those barmaids who are desired through their sexy dressing way. Generally, it is the one who offer more who has the girl hence, the third salary.
Barmaiding, the only way to earn her living
According to the Sociologist Dr. Abou-Bakari Imorou Teacher-Researcher at University of Abomey-Calavi « … If we take the case of Donga’s girls, at a giving moment/time they are called to participate to the gathering of trousseau so some go to work in houses and others go to bars to acquire the resources that could allow them to realise their life project… ». « …i have been trained in drug store helper/assistant and submit my files but no sign yet. To not stay at home and doing nothong i have decided to do this firstly… » confides Love a barmaid at Parakou. It then apprears clearly that the job of barmaid is done to overcome survivance needs. The latter appears for girls as the only way of gaining their living.
Bad treatments disregarding to regulations
Hardly the salary fixed verbaly from 15,000 to 30,000 francs Cfa hardly paid, than they become the one who can be exploited at will. « …we are paid but sometimes we spend two months without been paid and we are obliged to count only on tips… » confides Simone Akey a barmaid at Parakou.
In accordance with the decree N°98-368 of 04 September 1998, the staff other than cooks in hotels, restaurants and bars should work 48 hours a week but unfortunately in Benin, barmaids go beyond 72 hours a week and are not paid for extra hours. « …i start my work from 9 a.m and end with the departure of the last client… » has affirmed Happy Katakiti a barmaid. It happens sometimes that the last client leaves by 5 a.m even around 6 then obliging barmaids to work beyond their hours of working. From one hand, they are exposed to wooings from bars promoters and managers and in case of refusal they encounter physical and moral retaliations from the latters who depriving them of their thin salary during months. Words from Françoise explain it « …I left the bar X because the boss wanted ‘’me to have sex with him’’ as he used to do with the others. When I refused he started insulting me every time long and even slapped me one day. It is where I left… » Without beating about the bush, Malick a bar promoter confirms « …the goat graze on where it is tie up, those girls are sometimes irresistible… » Some give up all at their risks.
Victims of their ignorance
It is worth to underline that the it is the ignorance of texts that leads to conflicts and misunderstandings between barmaids and employers. Not only employers ignore texts but barmaids themselves also ignore them without knowing legal ways they have to claim their rights. Fataou Raimi General Secretary of National Union of employers of hotels and houses linked to Csa confirms, « this service is not organised. Numerous girls come from remote places like Togo, Ghana do not know the existance of our Union »
Lecherous clients thinking that all is allowed
Clients boasting of been « kings » do not hide their intention of making of barmaids sexual objects. Then, sensible parts of barmaids become parts to be explored by those lecherous client’s fingers. Such displays the words of Aicha Osséni a barmaid, « some clients touche our breats and bottoms and we can not refuse because they will not more come back ». those desiring to go further in their desire are obliged to wait until late hours becoming the last clients commonly called « Dc ». Those relationships born without any precaution sometimes become serious in some cases. That is what raises prejudices in the society about this job.
Barmaids or Prostitutes ?
In fact, for the majority of the population, been a barmaid is been a prostitute as precised by Moussa Tairou Parakou inhabitant in his words, « one say they earn generally 20,000 to 30,000 francs Cfa per months. If they do not sell their « ass » how are they doing to live ? look at their way of living ». Yanick’s words a barmaid seem to join Moussa Tairou’s words, « me I came from my Country to look for money so why not to use what God give to me ? » she asked to herself. « if a man comes and asks for it, if he has money the ris no problem » added she before concluding, « I do not mind about what people say about me that i am a prostitute or what anyway, it does not prevent me from earning my money » These are the reasons and behaviours confirming some prejudices of the population that stigmatised and criminalised the barmaids’ community. Even if this fact seems to be true in this job, it is not uncommon to see among the barmaids some who are perfect, they do their job and are dressed decently. It is the case of Love who affirms, « I know what i am looking for here. I do not come for that, whatever the price a man proposes to me i refuse »
Though, they are Economic Actors to be acknowledged for their sake
Barmaids diserve a consideration of the society. It is what we attempted to say throughg the explanations of Israël Gouroubéra, Inspector of Work at Departmental Direction of Work of Public Function Borgou-Alibori. According to him, those girls should benefit of the same rights and prerogatives with other workers. This said, he affirms, « they are workers as others only that about their domain, law established some rules to be respected ». however, barmaids contribute to the Economic development of the Country. The latters work for Economic entities who at their turn contribute to the National Economy.
A visibility of the Union, the organisation of the sector, a popularisation of texts, and a good application of the code of work is imposed for barmaids to find their dignity and enjoy fully of their rights because as one say, work takes shelter from vice.
Translation : Maroufatou KAKPO