Saudi Gazette reports on the situation with ‘runaway housemaids’ in Saudi Arabia, which it numbers as around 20,000. The article suggests that the principal reason for running away is abuse by employers. It also points out that by committing an illegal act (in Saudi Arabia) of leaving the sponsor who holds one’s travel papers and contract, a runaway enters the twilight world of illegality and becomes subject to more illegality. Because she lacks legal status, the runaway will be reluctant to make legitimate complaints to the police of abuse by others. Not a pretty picture.
Abuse against housemaids increases in the Kingdom
Joe Avancena Saudi Gazette
DAMMAM – The case of housemaids running away from their employers has reached an epidemic level now bursting social and economic problems that are draining the resources of the Kingdom, said Col. Yousef Al-Qahtani, spokesman of Dammam Police.
“Not a single day passes without a housemaid running away from her employer, marking a daily occurrence here in Eastern Province that has spawned social and economic implications,” Qahtani said.
“The situation is not much better anywhere in the Kingdom,” he said.
Saudi families spend money and hurdle difficulties to hire housemaid, he said.
It has become costly to recruit a housemaid from Southeast Asia with fees going up to SR10,000 for a maid who would run away once she is here.
And if a housemaid runs away from her employer, the employer loses all the money put into hiring her. The money usually includes the cost of the visa, recruitment fees, and plane ticket. It has now become a common practice for housemaids to abandon their jobs upon their arrival in the Kingdom, he said.
Saudi Gazette also reports that the national human rights organization is calling for major reform in the way foreign workers are recruited and hired: Human rights body seeks new sponsorship system