Monday, January 29, 2007

Maid for Abuse

Large metropolitan newspapers list sub-categories for employment in their classified sections: Administrative, Construction, Education, Health Care, Legal, etc., and our two English newspapers here in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, Arab News and The Saudi Gazette, both have a “Classified” section, albeit, on a much smaller scale than the typical American paper. The Saudi Gazette’s classified section does not appear anywhere on their Internet version; the Arab News can be found on-line and their classified section consists of sections for the categories of “Jobs, Matrimonial, For Sale, Miscellaneous, Swap, Cargo and Announcement.” However, jobs are not listed categorically and today there was no “help wanted” listing for a maid. There was an ad for another domestic situation which, really, given the fact that women in this Country cannot drive, makes fulfilling this position a “necessity” in The Sandbox – and that is for the hiring of a driver:

Required a family driver (Filipino/Indonesian) to work in Riyadh with a Saudi family. Candidate should know Riyadh area very well. Will be offered good salary. Suitable candidates contact Mobile: 0555555555.*
Is finding a maid for abuse something that is done through an agency or some sort of networking? There is a question to which the answer may remain, for me, elusive, in that I will never have a maid. Yes, currently, I have a houseboy who comes for four hours, three times a week to assist me in cleaning, but all of the “stuff” that is routine and day-to-day, i.e., laundry, ironing, dishes, make the bed, etc., is done by me.

The employer, or sponsor, whose son responded to the allegations made by
this maid has, of course, denied them. [Yeah, I know. And, yes, I’m as surprised as you are!] It would certainly be quite rare indeed if there is a single, reported case where the employer or sponsor of an abused maid actually admitted it. Just one… Apparently, the son, deems it worthy to note, regarding the maid's claim that she has been abused, that she had “only been with them for a month and a half.” [This will be an integral component used to the benefit of the abusing party – not THE abused – in any official action that might be brought before the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Such mitigating circumstances all but guarantee a judgment in favor of the defendant(s).]

Someone help me out here if I’m wrong on this, but is there a minimum length of time that a maid has to be with a family before the abuse “officially” begins? Is the first six weeks – or month and a half – of employment as a domestic servant considered a “grace period?” If so, somebody should have shared that little caveat with
Fatima! But that would, of course, explain Rosie's saga, because, after all she was a maid here for seven months when AFTER being summoned by the police her male employer admitted abusing her. Oh, pardon. My mistake. I was unaware of this instance in which a husband took responsibility for his wife’s abuse of the maid although it isn’t quite the same as admitting the abuse, is it?

*The telephone number, for obvious reasons, has been changed. Do, however, notice that the Nationality of the wanted driver has been specified. Try to imagine an employer doing something like this in the United States - unfathomable! The ACLU and every one of its related agencies, no matter how remotely associated, would be stumbling over each other during the race to file a lawsuit in the nearest Courthouse. Yes, things are just a bit different here, in The Sandbox…


  1. This statement is not true:

    'Do, however, notice that the Nationality of the wanted driver has been specified. Try to imagine an employer doing something like this in the United States - unfathomable!'

    Employers can 'do something like this' in the US. In our search for a nanny in Houston, we used the services of the top three nanny agencies in Texas; we were given the option of requesting the nationality, spoken language(s) (Spanish/French/Arabic/English), and ethnicity of potential nannies to be shortlisted before our interviews. In my opinion, these specific details are important for parents/employers before hiring employees, particularly live-in domestic workers.

  2. I just read an article in the arab news where fatima insisted on being sent back to prison as opposed to going back to her family....who broke her marriage up because of her husbands tribe. Her one year old is in prison with her... it truly is a different world.

  3. Saudi Arabia, Wow!

    I think you might enjoy our Reality
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    in the American Compound.

    Don't let the Mutawah bug you. reb

  4. Please keep your good work up. I would also apreciate if you can visit my blog , here is a post:
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  5. each day I check to see if there is a new blog... I hope all is well for you in the sand box.

  6. OMG. Someone else is out there! From the Sandpits....


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