Wedding proposal lands maid in jail

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Apr 4 2007

A young housemaid has recently been arrested and sent to prison for asking permission to get married (a brief explanation is provided below, after the published news article.)

From today's GDN:

A WEDDING proposal landed a teenage housemaid behind bars after she told her female employer she wanted to marry her suitor.

The 19-year-old Asian maid asked her employer for permission to marry her Indian suitor - but let slip that she had allowed him into the house.

Her Bahraini was furious and called the police and the maid and her suitor, who is in his 30s, were arrested, a Public Prosecution spokesman said yesterday.

He said the maid, described by her sponsor as a good worker, met the man while he was working at a cafe near the Manama home where she worked.

"She visited him whenever she had errands to do outside the house", said the spokesman.

But maid was not satisfied with the limited relationship and wanted to be able to talk to the man more.

"She asked him to get a mobile phone for her so that they could talk whenever they wanted to," said the spokesman.

The man agreed to get a phone and told her that he would meet her at her residence.

"He went to meet her at 2.30am on Sunday morning and spent some time with her in her room", said the spokesman.

"He told her that he was going to tell her sponsor that he wanted to marry her, but she told him that it would be best if she spoke to her sponsor."

The next day, the maid told her sponsor that she was in love with a man and wanted to marry him.

She also added that she had let him in the house the night before, without the sponsor's permission, said the spokesman.

The sponsor immediately reported the incident to the police, fearing that she would do the same thing again.

The worker has been charged with entering a residence without permission and the housemaid with helping him to do so. They have each been remanded in custody for seven days, until the case goes to court.

As you can see, the serious part of the incident is that she allowed her lover to enter her employers' house without permission, something her employer has every right to act against, but to actually imprison this young lady for wanting to get married?

How could we possibly punish a maid for wanting to lead a normal life? Especially after she did the right thing by actually asking for permission?

Domestic workers are there to serve as "helping" hands, but it seems as though they are doing so much work (and often, with so little pay) that they can't even get a distraction. Their work quite literally consumes 24 hours of their daily routine, for the many years that they remain employed within the same household. No outside relations, no interactions, not even a love life, what are they allowed to do other than slave themselves for the gains of their employers?

This was clearly a mistake on her part, and her employer has every right to be angry at this and to act against this, but prison is a bit too far. She is a teenager. An effective warning would've been more appropriate for the sake of her employers' safety and belongings. But no theft took place, or any violent/criminal action, so imprisoning her for wanting to lead a normal life is just taking it too far and is a clear violation of her basic rights.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East