Keep an eye on maids, police tell sponsors
Nawaf Al-Bouk, Jeddah police spokesman, announced Wednesday that the police in coordination with the Passport Department recently apprehended more than 50 domestic workers who had run away from their sponsors in lure of better salaries in upcoming Ramadan.
He told Arab News that the incidence of maids and household workers running away from their sponsors’ homes typically increases before Ramadan due to the increased demand by housewives for such workers to carry out household chores during the holy month. Reports indicate that salaries of domestic helps can increase to more than SR2,000 for the month, he said.
Al-Bouk advised sponsors to avoid tempting household workers to leave by giving them a cell phone of their own to use throughout the day or allowing them to go out into the street alone to avoid the possibility of someone trying to contact them.
A number of cities including Jeddah have recorded instances of maids escaping their sponsors’ homes before Ramadan. Reports say that organized gangs are involved in smuggling these maids to larger cities where they can find work for better salaries. The phenomenon has been growing despite the Labor Ministry’s regulations which stipulate a prison sentence and a fine for any household that employs a maid who has escaped from her sponsor.
Wajdy Al-Sanaa said the number of maids escaping from their sponsors before Ramadan has grown significantly. His family witnessed the escape of eight household workers, one of whom was employed with him and five who were working for his brothers and relatives.
He blamed gangs and traffickers for helping the maids to escape and expressed his confidence in security authorities to identify the culprits and bring them to book for causing the tremendous financial losses to the sponsors.
Mohammed Al-Rifai said a domestic working for him was only employed for a few days before she escaped a few days before Ramadan. He said she had indicated she was using her mobile phone to call her family, but it appears she had devised a plan to call someone else to help coordinate her escape.
The Kingdom plays host to thousands of domestic helps from different countries around the world such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Yemen and some African countries. Sponsors pay large sums of money including airfares to have the household workers gain legal entry into the Kingdom and therefore suffer substantial losses when the domestics abscond leaving them in the lurch.