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Employer accuses maid of being a thief...and a man

On March 4, 2012

Gulf media outlets continue to turn out puzzling, skewed, and often offensive pieces about domestic workers employed in the region. Recently, we’ve posted several pieces exposing the absurd, intentional misrepresentations of foreign domestic workers. But sometimes, a story successfully perpetuates senseless suspicions regarding these migrants without any apparent media intervention.

An article featured by both Emirates 24/7 and documents an unbalanced employer and the victims of her antics; the employer accused her first maid of being a man, eventually “returning” her to the recruitment office. The maid was then stripped by an office worker to verify the employer’s story, which remains unconfirmed and obscure. The employer later returned to the recruitment office once again, this time accusing her second maid of thieving.

Such stories precisely embody the issues discussed in our previous post “Trivializing Abuse." The crazed employer appears as an object of ridicule, but the emotional and economic stress she inflicted on the migrants under her professional care are serious acts of misconduct. Yet, our attention is never brought to the impact of the employer's actions on these women; the employer and agency representatives are interviewed, but we hear nothing directly from the migrants themselves. We don’t know how they felt about their employer rifling through their things, or dismissing them at a moment’s notice. We don’t know how they felt about such ludicrous accusations, or the public embarrassment that followed. In fact, we don’t even know their names.

Unfortunately, the serious plight of domestic workers can be easily overshadowed by such ‘entertaining’ pieces. While Gulf journalists may not have malicious intentions in these instances, their superficial reports reflect a tendency to prioritize employer anecdotes over those of domestic workers - those who truly do need an outlet to amplify their cloistered voices.