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Employees deserve better

Employees deserve better

In a part of the world where many employees exist in difficult situations, maids are perhaps the most exposed. Sam Potter argues we need to protect them better.

August 4, 2010 4:21 by

My mother used to tell me to treat people how I would wish to be treated. A simple and just concept that is sadly lost on some people in the melting pot of cultures and nationalities in which we all live and work here in the Middle East.

A newspaper report this week carried a story of Filipino Muslims who will gather together at a women’s shelter next week to share an iftar meal with more than 100 Filipinas who have fled their employers. According to the report, the shelter is managed by Filipino labour and welfare officials, and is located within the premises of the Philippine overseas labour office in Dubai.

According to a report from the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, the reasons the women were seeking refuge include not being underpaid, long hours, lack of food, verbal abuse, sexual assault, and physical cruelty and rape.

Lately it seems to me I have been reading more and more about these shelters, or stories of maids that have suffered abuse. Or perhaps it’s that I am noticing them more. Either way, one shelter or even one abuse is one too many.

These issues are by no means UAE specific. Last month Gulf News reported that in Oman, the plight of Indian maids were back under the spotlight because one girl’s family had lost contact with her. The girl’s sponsor maintained that she was OK, but neither the girl’s family nor the Indian embassy had been able to speak to her. The community welfare secretary for the Indian Social Club told Gulf News he received about five requests a day from housemaids for help, and “at least six to seven cases a month involve serious abuses and denial of rights”.

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