A Palestinian woman accused of sheltering runaway maids

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Aug 19 2008

In Kuwait, and elsewhere in the Gulf, there are no formal shelters for abused maids. If a housemaid runs away, more often than not, it is because of her discomfort in a certain house or because of mistreatment, but there is nowhere that she can go. Police or the agency that she came through will send her back to her employers, which is how many maids suffer further abuse while locked up and watched more closely.

It is therefore imperative that something be done in terms of finding a solution to the growing problems of maids not being comfortable where they work, especially if there is proof that living conditions or abuse is extreme. She cannot be expected to suffer extreme situations simply because of a contract that was signed.

Apparently women volunteering their services is frowned upon in Kuwait, here is an example from today's Kuwaiti newspaper Arab Times:

A senior police officer, who refused to give his identity, has expressed his resentment at steps taken by the Ministry of Interior to release an unidentified Palestinian woman who was caught a few days ago and charged with sheltering runaway housemaids, reports Arrouiah daily.

The officer said the woman was released upon instructions from what he called high level sources.
Earlier it was reported police acting on a tip-off rushed to a house in Riqqa and arrested 20 maids on whom their sponsors had filed ‘absconding’ reports at various police stations.

A police source said the woman was running the house as a domestic labor office without license.

What a crime! A woman helping maids through providing safe shelter! And of course she would be running this shelter without license, last I checked it was an extremely tedious (close to impossible) task to gain an official license (or even an NGO status) for anything having to do with maids since our countries are in denial when it comes to this state of slavery.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East