You have reached the main content

Bahrain Wife Reports Husband For Not Paying Maid

On August 8, 2009

This rather unusual story appeared in the Gulf Daily News last month. A Bahraini teacher and mother-of-six reported her husband to the authorities for failing to pay the family's Sri Lankan maid for 20 months.

The wife claimed that she could no longer stand the hypocrisy of spending her working day teaching children the difference between right and wrong while an employee in her own home was being exploited. She took the step of reporting the case to the Ministry of Labour after discovering that her husband planned to deport the maid without paying her.

As she told journalists:

"What my husband is doing is wrong and against human rights. When I ask him to pay the maid, he tells me that it is up to him as he is her sponsor.

She (the maid) works very hard for our family, cooking and cleaning for our children. The least we should do is pay her salary on time.

"Unfortunately our eldest son mistreats her because he has been taught by his father that a maid is our slave. I have not been able to correct him, but I have been able to teach my daughters that this is not how people should be treated."

Cases of employers standing up for the human rights of domestic staff are all too rare. This is an unusual and extremely brave attempt to challenge a deeply-ingrained culture of abuse and exploitation of migrant workers.