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Rights groups reject fatwa allowing Saudi women to work as maids

Academics say domestic work is ‘humiliating’ for KSA nationals.

March 21, 2010 2:39 by

Saudi academics and lawyers have rejected a fatwa allowing Saudi women to work as maids, saying such work is ‘humiliating’ for them.

Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi issued a decision two years ago allowing Saudi women to work as house managers and servants.

A fatwa, or religious edict, was subsequently issued by legal adviser Saleh bin Saad Al-Laheedan, who said it is permissible for Saudi women to work as maids if they cannot find other jobs, if they are over 50, and if they are accompanied by a mehram (a close male relative).

But speaking to, Suhaila Zainul Abideen, a member of the National Society for Human Rights, expressed her surprise at Al-Laheedan’s fatwa. She strongly opposed the idea of Saudi women working as maids.

Abideen said the state is responsible for taking care of women if they are in need of financial assistance. “Where is social insurance?” she asked. She also wondered why scholars were not applying the principle when it comes to other issues such as women driving and mingling with the opposite sex.

Abideen asked whether any family would allow their womenfolk to work along with their mehrams, and urged the concerned authorities to take up the matter with King Abdullah, who she said would not accept the ‘humiliation’ of Saudi women. Al-Laheedan should have instead asked the authorities to make monthly payments to poor Saudi women, Abideen added.

Fahd Al-Johani, dean of student affairs at Taif University, also opposed Al-Laheedan’s fatwa, saying working as maids would force women to violate certain Islamic principles. He said Al-Laheedan should have considered the present condition of maids before giving his fatwa.

Ibrahim Al-Saqhabi, a Saudi, said it is shameful for the ministry and Al-Laheedan to allow Saudi women to work as maids. “Saudi Arabia has the financial ability to support its poor women by paying them monthly salaries, instead of allowing them to work as maids,” he said.

- Arab News


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  1. Oz on March 22, 2010 7:25 am

    Rather a sad indictment of a society that considers it humiliating to work in any role.

    If you need to feed yourself anf look after yourself any job will give you the dignity to do that. Where is the dignity in sitting with your hand out waiting for someone els to take care of you?

  2. Iftikhar Awan on March 22, 2010 8:55 am

    A good example of double standards because why Muslim women from counteries like Indonesia & other Muslim counteries are allowed to work (in abundant) as house maids?!

  3. Miss Anne Thropic on March 22, 2010 8:57 am

    Right, so it’s fine for women from other nations to come into Saudi and work as maids but it is somehow beneath the dignity of a Saudi woman to work as a maid? What on earth does nationality have to do with this? It is either humiliating for women of any nationality to work as a maid or it’s not.

    If a Saudi woman is happy to work as a maid and sees that as a reasonable way to earn an income and feel productive then let her do that.

  4. Andrew on March 22, 2010 11:08 am

    It’s not humiliating to the woman who wants to work, it’s humiliating to her husband/family that she; A) Works and/or B) Has to work.

    For a nation whose men with such a massive superiority complex, they have such fragile egos. The poor dears.

  5. DENISETHEMENANCEAGAIN on March 23, 2010 6:31 am


  6. Raju on March 23, 2010 8:21 am

    Human dignity is in executing the work (working honestly, legally, ethically and morally right way) in an honest and upright way be it any work other than selling onself for money.
    It is acceptable to make the asian women (muslim and non-muslim) as maids, torture them, burn them and make them disappear when they show signs of displeasure at the cruelty?
    It would be better for the have nots to work than sit at the road signal lights and streach hands for some one to give out some coins….
    Is begging allowed ? dignified than earning a living and feeding self and dependants through dignified work ????
    Human kind has not come out of the stone age in some parts of the world yet.


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