Employer had hired runaway maid from illegal office
KUWAIT: Police have detained a woman for filming her Ethiopian maid falling from the seventh floor in an apparent suicide attempt without trying to rescue her, media and a rights group said yesterday. The Kuwaiti woman filmed her maid land on a metal awning and survive, then posted the incident on social media. The criminal investigation police referred the employer to the prosecution over failing to help the victim. The Kuwait Society for Human Rights yesterday called on the authorities to investigate the case and refer it to court.
Investigations yesterday revealed that the maid was reported missing by her original employer in 2014, and that her latest employer hired her from an illegal domestic helpers’ recruitment office. Police are currently looking for people running the illegal office, a security source said. Meanwhile, a delegation from the Ethiopian embassy visited the maid at Mubarak Hospital to check on her condition.
According to attorney Nouf Al-Ruwaih, videoing the incident itself is not a crime, but he said the employer could be charged with negligence and failure to offer help. Investigations are currently ongoing to determine whether the case is a suicide attempt, an accident that happened while the maid was working, or a case of attempted homicide and libel. “The law says that any person who fails to help someone else who poses a grave danger to himself or his possessions will be punished with a maximum three months in jail and/or fine,” Ruwaih said.
The 12-second video shows the maid hanging outside the building, with one hand tightly gripping the window frame, as she begs for help in an apparent last-minute change of mind. The woman holding the camera is heard telling the hanging maid: “Oh crazy, come back.” The terrified maid is seen screaming “hold me, hold me”, just before her hand slips and she falls down to hit the awning, which appears to soften the impact. The employer made no reaction as she continued filming. Later, paramedics rescued the maid and rushed her to hospital where she was found to have suffered nose and ear bleeding and a broken arm.
Kuwait is home to more than 600,000 domestic helpers, a majority of them Asians, many of whom complain of abuse, mistreatment and non-payment of wages. Hundreds of maids escape their employers every year over abuse, and the government has set up shelters for them. Some seek help from their embassies.
By Hanan Al-Saadoun and Agencies