Why do maids in Kingdom commit such gruesome murders?

Maids in Kingdom

There have been frequent reports in the media about gruesome murders being committed by maids, in some cases against children, which raises the question of what is prompting maids all over the Kingdom to resort to violence?

Such murders are being committed at a time when families are becoming increasingly dependent on maids to perform common household chores such as cooking, cleaning and in some cases, looking after children, and this may point to a close link between the murders and Saudi society’s treatment of domestic servants.

It is no secret that many households do not treat their maids in a humane manner — stories of nonpayment of wages, abuse and violence are also common, all of which put maids under great stress. However, this does not mean that maids are always the victims and families the culprits, as there are many families who treat their housemaids humanely.

Experts say such crimes necessitate that Saudi embassies abroad play a greater role in recruiting maids and other workers by interviewing them, verifying their backgrounds, their psychological conditions and their reasons for wanting to work in the Kingdom. Currently, local recruitment offices deal with recruitment offices abroad, many of which fail to run background and health checks on workers being sent to the Kingdom.

Seham Al-Ali said it is unfair to criticize maids for the crimes of a few and added that most are trying to make a living so they can support their children and family back home. “Although there have been many gruesome crimes committed by maids, this does not, however, negate the fact that countless maids are well-treated and consider themselves a part of the families they work for,” she said.

Al-Ali added that it is unreasonable, as many have suggested, to say that some maids come to the Kingdom with the sole intention of committing crimes. Instead, she suggested that families keep an eye on maids and deport them if they exhibit any signs of mental instability.

“Obviously, many maids suffer from psychological problems and housewives should monitor their maids from the day they arrive to the Kingdom for any strange or out-of-character behavior, and if they notice such behavior, they should immediately deport them to avoid any potential violence,” she said while admitting that many families ignore or overlook alarming behavior because they are in dire need of a maid.

Najd Mohammad said the problem lies with the credibility of recruitment offices whose main concern is reaping profits they gain from recruiting workers. She suggested that maids be subjected to mandatory psychological testing, similar to the required medical examinations they undergo prior to recruitment.

“Arab societies lack a culture where workers’ rights are given importance. Maids in developed countries, for example, are given weekends off and are assigned specific tasks unlike here in the Kingdom where a maid is expected to play the role of maid, nanny, cook and any other role her employer deems necessary,” she said.

“Such practices are not implemented in our societies, where housemaids are owned by their sponsors, and are insulted by even young children without the intervention of their families. They are also expected to work extra without receiving any compensation for their time and effort,” she added.

Sociologist Dr. Saleh Al-Aqeel said one of the leading causes of such violent behavior among maids is the increasing workload maids are expected to deal with. “Many families completely relinquish their responsibilities of any house chores. This, however, does not justify housemaids’ criminal behavior, but families have a great role to play in dealing with housemaids who come from different cultures and societies, and also from different religions,” he said.

Dr. Al-Aqeel also said Saudi embassies abroad should play a greater role in verifying the backgrounds of maids and workers that are recruited to work in the Kingdom, as many of them have prior criminal records. He also recommended that recruitment offices that provide maids on a weekly or monthly basis be allowed to offer their services to the general public.

 
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