Thursday, September 6, 2007

Cases of abuse rise for Saudi foreign help

by Rasheed Abou-Alsamh from The Christian Science Monitor

An indication of how bad things can get for domestic workers are the shelters for runaway maids run by both the Philippine and Indonesian diplomatic missions in Riyadh and Jeddah. "There are around 300 maids now at our shelter in Riyadh, which is down from around 560 maids a few months ago, and there are around 45 maids at the shelter in Jeddah," says Eddy Zulfuat, vice consul at the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh. The Indonesian Embassy has been so swamped with cases of abused workers that it has hired a full-time Saudi lawyer to deal with all of the criminal cases. "We continue to hear of abuses being committed against migrant domestic workers as employers do not change that much in terms of negative attitudes toward domestic helpers," says Ellene Sana, the head of the Center for Migrant Advocacy in Manila. "Domestic workers are considered virtual slaves by employers who feel that they can ill-treat them as they please, without the slightest remorse."

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