Slavery, Rape & Abuse - Modern Day Realities for Middle East Maids

TheOPINIONATOR 14 May 2009

While browsing the web, yesterday, I viewed the Arab Times online site and came across several news articles about the rape and abuse of maids in Kuwait.

I was surprised at the cluster of cases so I searched the web for more information and was nearly knocked off my chair when I realized the enormous extent of the huge numbers of foreign maids suffering abuse at the hands of their Middle East "sponsors". To use the term "maid" is a misnomer - these women (and boys) are nothing more than modern day SLAVES. Slaves to be abused, raped, tortured, maimed, and killed.

Many of these maids come into the Middle East (particularly Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon) from Indonesia, the Phillipines, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia - smaller numbers come from India and Bangladesh. Saudi Arabia has the largest number of these imported domestics estimated at 200,000 in 2004. These maids are seen as inferiors to their Middle Eastern masters and many countries do not even recognize them as being covered by labor laws - including minimum wage:

"The plight of domestic workers in Lebanon rose to the spotlight during the summer of 2006, when Israel launched a thirty-four-day military offensive on Lebanon. In Arabic, the term "Abed" is used to denote a "black" person or "slave" and the word is sometimes heard in reference to Africans or Sri Lankans. Non-Arab Afro-Asian migrants in Lebanon are physically looked upon as inferior due to their positions as servants. These workers remain excluded under Article 6 of Lebanese labour laws and are often victims of abuse by both employers and agencies." LINK

The vast majority of these women are seeking an opportunity to earn money and send remittances back to their families -

"... Phillipines, where the economy relies heavily on remittances from nearly eight million Filipinos working overseas. Of that eight million, about 73,000 work in Kuwait. Some 60,000 are women employed mainly as maids and earning less than $200 a month on average, labor groups say.

Some of these woman do quickly realize the danger and manage to escape in a few days. But, many of the remaining "servants" are left in a living nightmare.

Here are some of the sickening stories of abuse, etc that I came across with a quick net search:


- Saudi employer accused of Ramadan abuse on Indonesian maid - burned her with hot iron and lye, forced to eat feces, smashed her teeth and jammed broken teeth down her throat

- Widespread gang rape of slave boys by Arab masters

- Saudi man/sponsor beat maid - whipped her with an electric wire, burned her genitals & broke her front teeth --- and never paid her

- Man fractures maid's spine

- Saudi couple beat Indonesian maid for one month - maid's hands and feet are amputated due to gangrene

- 15 "youths" try to gang rape maid

- Saudi man beats 2 Indonesian maids to death puts 2 others in Intensive Care

- Filipino woman hired as beautician jumps from window after being beaten by female employer and told she must now be a maid

- Indian maids in Kuwait - beaten and tortured by employers then tossed onto road

- Bahrain - Ethiopian maid jumps from second floor window to escape abuse

- Maid arrested for bewitching her employer

- Saudi maid kept as slave for 18 yrs - never paid and starved

- Saudi maid kept as slave and never paid salary for 10yrs

- Bahrain Maid sets trap for "sex pests"

- Lebanon - maids abandoned and dumped at hospitals if sick

- Domestic workers are dying (suicide, murder)in Lebanon at a rate of more than one per week


Is it any wonder many of these maids choose to run away? -

"In what can be termed a modern-day slave trade, Sri Lankan women arrive in Lebanon only to find themselves abused, imprisoned, raped, hungry, defenseless and alone. Siriani P., 27, came to Beirut in a desperate attempt to save her family from a life of poverty. Just ten months later, however, she grabbed the first opportunity to run away from her employers. LINK

Unfortunately, more often than not, this often makes these women more vulnerable to predators and they soon find their hoped for emancipation leads them directly into prostitution.

It is interesting that instead of seeing the hundreds of women/maids who flee their sponsor's home as a reason to investigate and reflect upon the domestics plight and their widespread abuse - this "maid flight" is seen as an irritation and enormous inconvenience for their muslim employers:

"Families in Jeddah and Riyadh live in constant fear of maids running away. Maids are sometimes like a rope that we place around our necks with them in control." LINK

More from Saudi Arabia:

"About 20,000 runaway housemaids from Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka have escaped from their employers for alleged abuse and maltreatment.

But the real story is not the above quote - but the POLICE spokesman who proceeds into a major WHINE complaining the abused, runaway maids cost their employers and the Kingdom money.

The shame of modern day slavery is not exclusive to the muslim countries as it appears that muslims are bringing their maid slavery behaviors into "multicultural" Western countries - a few examples:

- Irvine CA Couple -Abdelnasser Eid Youssef Ibrahim and Amal Ahmed Ewis-abd Motelib -found guilty of child slavery

- Long Island NY - Millionaires arrested after half naked Indonesian maid escapes mansion

- Germany refuses to help slaves of Persian Gulf sheiks

Colorado USA -Saudi man "sex slave" trial begins

- Brussel's officials raid hotel and remove 17 girls who were enslaved by Arab Royal family

So what is the solution to such a far reaching travesty of humanity?

Stopping women from going to the Middle East to be maids?

Ethiopia bans citizens from working in "abusive" Lebanon

- Abuse causes Sri Lanka to send fewer maid to Arab countries

Concern?

- Indonesian Embassy concerned about maid abuse

Writing story books?

Lebanon launches series of books to sensitize population to foreign maids

Ad campaigns?

- Saudi Arabia begin "Be nice to your maid" ads

Better yet - How about swift arrest and LONG term jail sentences for those who abuse/rape etc these (or any) women :

- Saudi Man gets 27 years for keeping women a "sex slave"

The above USA trial resulted in the conviction of Homaidan al-Turki. This conviction, in turn, brought seething protests from muslims that al-Turki was "framed" and accusations of "Islamophobia" against the United States judiciary/prosecution. The Saudi press claimed he would never have been convicted in Saudi Arabia. LINK

The Saudi press is right.

That is the sad and unfortunate reality for the thousands of women living as maids in the Middle East. Abusive employers receive NO punishment --- whereas a beaten, gangrenous, hospitalized maid --- who reports torture at the hands of her muslim employer - will get the Islamic Court ordered 79 lashes for her complaints along with a continued life of abuse or even death.

 
 

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