Maids Portrayed as Criminals in a UAE Paper

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Feb 23 2010

Migrant workers are often portrayed in regional media as criminals, unclean and dangerous, despite the fact that they are the weakest group in society and require protection and deserve gratitude for their hard work.

The Khaleej Times recently published a rather skewed article about housemaids committing crimes in the UAE titled "Increase in Crimes Involving Maids, Police Urge Caution". The report discusses an apparent rise of 20% in "crimes" committed by housemaids in 2009 compared to 2008. The reason we use the word "crimes" in quotation marks in because the "crimes" by maids include not just theft, but also things like adultery and suicide attempts.

The article also includes stories of abuse of foreign domestic workers. One such worker, Terrok, said that maids often live in "prison like" conditions when they are not allowed to leave the house of their employers all week long. Magee, a Filipino maid, told the paper that she fled her employer after he sexually harassed her and now she works on a part-time basis. Berria, a Sri Lankan maid, said that some employers don't pay as much as they promised or don't provide proper health-care. She added that because labor laws in the UAE do no protect domestic workers, absconding their employers is often the only way out for abused maids.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East