Sunday, July 17, 2011

Kuwait's "Other Story" of Maid Abuse

Kuwait has been on the Human Rights Watchlist for some time now due to human trafficking & abuse- specifically abuse to maids. I came across the following opinion Article & felt it was fair to let Kuwaiti's air some frustration when it comes to maids. I know many people will relate.Maid Abuse & SponsorsThe Other Side Of The Story
I do sympathize with domestic workers who went through extremely difficult and painful experiences, victimized by some inhumane sponsors. However, instead of only prioritizing the coverage of such crimes in our local media, we should not neglect to look at “the other side of the story.”
In other words, our local media and even human rights organizations need to take into account those situations in which some domestic workers do actually abuse their sponsors! This kind of domestic-sponsors abuse does not receive enough attention in our local media nor in the reports of some human rights organizations. In fact, one notices a certain bias in such reports against Kuwaiti and expatriate sponsors.

Some domestic workers abuse their sponsors. Such incidents of abuse may not reach the level of cruel physical torture, (though it sometimes happens against the sponsor’s children), but quite often they take the form of lack of irresponsible behavior on the part of the domestic worker.
Moreover, some domestic workers in Kuwait show a clear lack of commitment to their workplace. Furthermore, some domestic workers exploit their sponsor and use them as a dispensable tool, a mere vehicle transfer residency or to look for a “better” paying-job.
What tends to capture the attention of our local media and international human rights organizations tends to be the other part of the ugly story of exploitation and abuse.
Expatriate and citizen sponsors being abused and exploited by some domestic helpers is usually removed from the picture, sometimes intentionally.

I suggest setting up a national panel to discuss the kind of abuses some domestic workers commit against their sponsors’, their sponsors’ family members and other domestic workers in the house.
For example, I was approached once by an expatriate sponsor of a domestic helper.
She thanked me for focusing on the issues relating to domestic workers, yet she drew my attention to what she described as “the other side of the story.”
She explained what happened to her personally: her maid, even though she received a very good salary in comparison to others in her job situation, she decided one day to leave the house, without any clear reason.

In fact, that maid contacted her Embassy’s Labour Office and filed a complaint against her sponsor because she wanted a better-paying job! Such an action goes against all rules and regulations governing officially recognized workers’ contracts.
And of course, due to the huge number of abuse cases against housemaids, the general wisdom in our society tends to blame the sponsor, rather than the maid.
Ultimately, the domestic helper relationship with their sponsor should be governed by already existing labor laws.

However, I would ask the concerned authorities to look into this issue deeper. Our government needs to reexamine the other side of the story, especially in cases when the sponsor gets abused, gets exploited and lied to/ about by domestic workers.
Some Labour offices in certain Embassies in Kuwait need to maintain professional attitudes in dealing with such maid/sponsor problems. I have never heard yet about a labour office siding with the abused sponsor! Prove me wrong!

By: Khaled Aljenfawi
The Arab Times Online


  1. You are kidding right? The poor Kuwaiti sponsor? I am sorry, but a maid is a luxury, not a right. Kuwaiti sponsors (even nice ones) expect the maid to pay back their sponsorship fee in back-breaking 12 hour shifts when they earn a criminally low wage. Can YOU live on 80 KD per month? How about if someone withheld most of it to pay off a debt you weren't aware you incurred? What if someone withheld your passport, beat and verbally abused you and then filed a criminal charge against you when you ran away? Kuwaiti employers hold all the cards, and the maids have no resources to protect them except escape. If they could negotiate with you fairly they would but you hold all the power, so how can it ever be fair? How can you even think of comparing your situation to theirs? Just try to imagine where they come from, how they work and how they feel. Do you think you could survive even a week of that life?
    As for siding with the "abused sponsor" take a look at all the stories of rape and abuse where the Kuwaiti offender gets little more than a short interview at the police station. If a foreigner were to commit the same crimes against a Kuwaiti girl, he or she would be subject to the strictest punishment.
    I think that the world has made it too easy on you. Maids and drivers are LUXURIES. If you aren't willing to pay the price and treat them properly than maybe you should do your OWN dishes, clean your OWN toilets and look after your OWN children for a little while.

  2. Anonymous: thank you for your passionate thoughts. I agree with you 100% but I am not Kuwaiti & I was only re-posting an article from The Arab Times.