Sunday, July 9, 2006

Runaway Maids in Saudi Arabia

Nathan Newman at Labor Blog reports on the shame of the U.S. engaged in Free Trade with Rapists and Labor Abusers. He observes:
We may be dependent on the region for oil, but why would we think of making trade agreements with regimes that are some of the worst violators of labor rights in the world?

Cases of Asian maids running away and leaving their employers in desperate situations seem to be a growing phenomenon....
It seems that as soon as the workload increases and maids are asked to rub some extra elbow grease into their work then the women bail out and abort ship....The Ministry of Social Affairs and police deal with the responsibility of runaway maids at the Center for Maids Affairs. The center employs receptionists to follow up complaints and a number of female workers supervise detained maids and ensure the women are given food and is perhaps time the government did something to maintain the rights of Saudi employers who are abused by their dishonest maids.

But it's not a new problem!
A Saudi Arabian official says that more than nineteen-thousand foreign maids ran away from their employers in 2000.Most of the maids are from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philipines.

Nepali House-maids in the Saudi Houses
Chandra S. Gurung suggests contracts and representation to help stave off exploitation.

During the first week of May 2005, I was stunned to read news in the leading English daily about an Indonesian maid, Nour Miyati, the 25-year-old woman whose gangrenous fingers were amputated after she was brutally beaten and locked in a bathroom by her Saudi employer. According to reports, Saudi sponsor had tied her up in the bathroom for a month so tightly her extremities became gangrenous due to insufficient blood supply. Amputation was the only way to save her life. Moreover, she had suffered broken teeth and an eye injury. The reason given for the punishment was that the maid had not cleaned the house properly.
Unless the Ministries of Labor from Nepal and KSA draft a new law under which a contract must be signed fulfilling the most appropriate conditions, the injustice towards Nepali maids in the Kingdom will continue. Our Government should stop these girls from leaving the country without prior agreement on the stipulated salary, fixed working hours and other genuine facilities with the government of KSA. The signed contract should also state that the sponsor must give the maid a day-off every week and provide her access to a telephone should she wish to seek the advice or help of her consulate or embassy.

Maid abuse part of Saudi way of life (Pipes).

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