Saudi Gazette/Okaz report that 89%, yes, nearly 9 out of 10 Saudi families employ one or more maids. With a poverty rate of 15%-20%, that means that at least 5% of those living under the Saudi poverty line are also employers. Either there is something wrong with those statistics or Saudi Arabia is such a difficult place to manage daily life that no one appears competent to do it alone. Perhaps it’s only a statistical error, not noting that many families employ more than one.
The number comes out in a Saudi symposium in Madina that addressed the issue of abuse of domestic servants, a very real problem. It is indeed time that Saudi society and government faced up to the fact that they have a very real problem and that the solutions to it are not going to make everyone happy. I don’t think Saudi Arabia can continue to hire the large numbers of foreign workers it currently does. Historically, a well-to-do family might take in poor cousins, as happened in most of the world at one point or another. But those times have changed. Even if poor, those cousins aren’t interested in working for another Saudi, for the most part (79% of maids are non-Arab). Whether it’s a sense of entitlement or some superiority complex, Saudis are not uniformly ready to take on the responsibility of being employers to foreign domestic workers.
89% of Saudi homes have housemaids
MADINA: Studies show that 89 percent of Saudi homes in the Kingdom have at least one housemaid in their employment, and that 79 percent of them are of non-Arab origin.
The figures were stated at a symposium on violence against house workers held in Madina Saturday, which heard specialists tackle the various forms and effects of physical, sexual and mental abuse, as well as the detrimental effects of the presence of a housemaid to employers.
Psychologist Dr. Naif Al-Marwani said that housemaids attempt to flee their sponsors due to maltreatment, non-payment of wages, sexual aggression, being sent to work for other people, differences in customs and traditions, and homesickness.
“Others reasons entail overwork and no provision of health care,” he said.
The number of housemaids is also ever-increasing, the symposium noted, with the figure currently approaching two million.
The papers also report that the government, finally, is getting around to establishing a commission to supervise the welfare of domestic workers. Finally.