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UAE: Maid arrested after escaping abuse, set to be deported

On April 12, 2011

A Filipino maid whose employers refused to let her resign after overworking and mentally abusing her for three years, has been taken to the Al Wasl immigration holding prison in Dubai and is set to be deported, the Emirati 7 Days paper reported today.

The maid, a mother of-one, has attempted to resign at the beginning of 2011, giving her employers a one-month notice. However, her employers refused to let her leave after she has worked for them for three years, during which she was mentally abused and forced to work for 16 hours per day, seven days per week. After her employers wouldn't let her quit, the maid escaped their home last month and fled to the Philippines Overseas Labour Off­­ice. Her employers responded by declaring her as an absconder at the Dubai Nat­uralisation and Resid­ency Depart­ment.

Yesterday, the 42-year-old woman was arrested and taken to the Dubai immigration prison and is set to be deported. Speaking to 7 Days she said “I tried to do everything the right way - I asked in writing to leave my employers after three years and they would not allow it. I had no choice. All I want to do is work hard for a good family. Now I have to go back with nothing. I can’t stand to tell my family in the Philippines, they rely on me for financial support.”

Foreign labor is regulated in the UAE under the Sponsorship (kafala) system, which ties the legal status of the migrant workers to their employer, making it illegal to leave their sponsors without the consent of the sponsor. Sponsors, however, are free to fire (and thus cause the deportation of) their workers whenever they please. Even in cases of abuse, if the worker leaves his sponsor without permission, he loses his legal status. The absconding charges result in a visa ban, meaning the worker will be forbidden from entering in the UAE again.