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Arab maids !!

Muna Al-Fuzai

Muna Al-Fuzai

While we are looking forward to the National Assembly addressing the issue of domestic labor for the benefit of all parties - sponsors and maids - once and for all, a new call was made to diversify the nationalities of domestic workers, specifically calling for allowing Arab maids.

This suggestion spawned a barrage of comments, ranging from jokes to remarks about the services required and the role expected to be played by the helpers. I did not know that bringing in Arab servants was forbidden, as I remember that in the past - specifically in the ‘70s - Arab nationals were allowed to work as servants, but over the years, they disappeared and were replaced by Asian workers of various nationalities such as Sri Lankans, Indians, Indonesians, Filipinos and others. With the increase in the number of maids, problems have increased.

Most differences are due to the lack of the sponsors’ commitment to the financial rights of maids. Not all sponsors are alike - some are fair and kind, while some are evil and domineering. Some sponsors who are cruel and depraved torturers push their maids to revenge and sometimes suicide.

So far, the problems have not been resolved, so bringing in other nationalities will only increase the complexity of the current problem.

There have been parliamentary calls for the establishment of specialized labor companies to provide all safeguards to protect the interests of the sponsors and the maids. But more labor firms will mean the continuation of a culture of dependency on servants and the conflict will continue.

I believe companies offering hourly labor services is the solution to achieve consensus for all. Hourly labor companies are important to fight dependency on servants and marketing of the idea that the maid is a private possession of the sponsor to do whatever he/she wishes - torture or harassment that may be sexual or verbal. It will promote a new thinking that everyone in the family is responsible and the maid is not there to babysit all day and night.

Moreover, the family that needs the maid will be forced to pay the company directly and such measures will ensure the end of manipulation.

Kuwaiti society depends on expat labor for most jobs and this is not surprising, as all Gulf states also do so. But there is a need for necessary guarantees for the protection of workers’ rights, whether domestic workers or employees in companies and shops, or doctors, teachers and others.

When problems keep piling up, especially of domestic workers over the years, the pressing conditions require ending their agonies before bringing in more people. Diversity in names or nationality is not the answer.

By Muna Al-Fuzai

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This article was published on 25/06/2015