Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East

Return to research Posted on Feb 24 2012

Domestic worker advocates have long argued that crimes committed by maids are almost always the product of abuse. Media across the Middle East, but especially in the Gulf, often report on domestic worker crimes without adequate context. Additionally, the rarity of crimes against employers ensure that they are always front page news. This tendency generates a disproportional fixation on migrant domestic worker crimes, and creates a dramatized image of maids as innately ‘fiendish.’ The cumulative effect reinforces the widely touted conviction that employer’s must monitor and control their hired help even further beyond current practices.

By acknowledging the source of domestic worker crimes, legal authorities in Dubai place responsibility on employers themselves. The recognition of this responsibility sets the stage for further legal accountability on the part of employers who mistreat domestic workers. The police’s public request for citizens to treat domestic workers humanely and civility initiates a critical humanization process that encourages locals to address workers beyond their labor utility.

The Dubai police’s statements represent an important transformation in the state’s perception of domestic workers, which we can hope will stimulate the same realization across the UAE.

Housemaids, Research, UAE, Working conditions

6 thoughts on “Dubai authorities admit maid crimes instigated by mistreatment

  1. [...] The law is particularly important as there are few rights enshrined for domestic workers. Many laws that affect laborers, including minimum wage and maximum weekly hours, do not apply to domestic workers. Initially, some members of the FNC still held that domestic worker rights do not need legal protection, but the majority of members noted the law provides benefits to both employers and employees. In fact, the proposal appears to be related to recent findings that link domestic worker crimes to employer mistreatment. [...]

  2. [...] workers to their abusive conditions – which recent investigations, including one conducted by the Dubai police, have affirmed. Minimal attention is attributed to the conditions domestic workers encounter, as [...]

  3. [...] image portrays domestic workers as the sole perpetrators of violence, disregarding the fact that employer mistreatment is the primary factor in domestic worker violence. Rather than attempt to assert more authority over workers to ‘curb their dangerous [...]

  4. [...] The notion that Asian migrants somehow represent security risk unique from Arab migrants is logically unsound. The article is very ambiguous as to what threat non-Arab migrants pose, particularly given that their presence is monitored by the government. If the author is referring to trafficked migrants, who are undocumented, than the fault lies in the government’s inability to thwart traffickers – who themselves present a greater threat than migrants. If the author is referring to absconded migrants, who are similarly considered undocumented, than once again the issue lies not with migrants themselves but in the primary reasons for absconsion – abuse or exploitation by employers. If he is simply referring to crimes committed by migrant workers, those too are overwhelmingly linked to employer mistreatment. [...]

  5. [...] committed by employers. Nor are the motivations behind domestic workers crimes discussed, despite a statement by the Dubai police last year which linked employer mistreatment to migrant worker [...]

  6. [...] and mistreated, they can be tempted to take revenge in a variety of ways.” Last year, the Dubai police also admitted that most domestic worker crime is linked to employer mistreatment. Both physical and psychological [...]

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Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East