Increase in Crimes Involving Maids, Police Urge Caution Filed on February 14, 2010

DUBAI - The General Department of Criminal Investigation of Dubai Police has said crimes involving housemaids had gone up 20 per cent in 2009, as against the number recorded in 2008. In 2009, 451 crimes involving housemaids were recorded, up from 341 recorded in 2008.

Major Jamal Al Jalaf, Deputy Director of General Department of Criminal Investigation for Management and Monitoring Affairs, called on people who employ maids to take safety measures and treat them in a civilised manner.

Al Jalaf attributed the incidences of such crimes to people’s negligence, who left their valuables in unsecured places, employing maids not sponsored by them, etc. The officer also said maids who were mistreated by their employers sometimes turned to criminal acts to take revenge.

For instance, a housemaid who was abused by her employer had neglected the child till he fell sick. He said most of the housemaids who work on a part-time basis are violating residency laws and some of them use work as a means to carry out criminal acts.

The police is holding workshops with recruitment offices to spread awareness among the housemaids on UAE laws and traditions.

Types of crimes

According to a study prepared by the General Department of Criminal Investigation showed that the crimes committed by housemaids include theft, adultery, bringing outsiders to employers’ home, getting pregnant outside marriage and suicide attempts.

Giving examples, Al Jalaf said the department arrested an Asian housemaid who stole jewels worth Dh40,000 when the family, which had employed her, was out till late night. She opened the safe containing the jewels and made away with them and her passport.

In another case, two African housemaids had committed theft at their employer’s home. They stole two boxes, one of which included Dh63,000 and gold jewellery while the other contained Dh3,000 and two diamond necklaces, in addition to some documents, and fled the house, Al Jalaf said. Their employer, an Emirati woman, informed the police that the two housemaids were not under their sponsorship.

A UAE national told the police that he noticed that his housemaid was pregnant and when he asked her about it, she confessed that she had had a relationship with a man who she had met.

On the other hand, Al Jalaf said that the CID in cooperation with the awareness department of the Dubai Police is preparing awareness campaigns on such crimes.

He urged people to not employ anyone not on their sponsorship. Otherwise, both parties will face stiff penalties, which range up to Dh50,000 in fine and jail terms. “Employing housemaids who are not on your sponsorship opens the door for crimes,” he said

Maids ask for better laws

On the other hand, housemaids too recount their suffering at the hands of their employers in some cases. Common complaints range from being made to overwork, being underpaid and underfed, being denied opportunities to visit their families in their home countries to even physical abuse.

Terrok, who works as a housemaid said in some cases, they face conditions similar to life in a prison as they work through the week, not having permission to leave the house and high stress.

Another housemaid, Magee, a Filipina, said that her former employer had sexually harassed her because of which she had to flee and find work on part-time basis.

A Sri Lankan housemaid Berria said that housemaids are often not provided with proper medical care and that some employers don’t pay as much as they had promised. She said that in many such cases, absconding turns out to be the only recourse as they are not covered under labour laws, while they owe money to recruitment agencies bringing them here.

Dr Sultan Al Jamal of Human Rights Monitor Centre of the Dubai Police said “We are working to ensure the protection the rights of all people.” He added that recently the government has made employment contracts mandatory to ensure that the housemaid and domestic workers get salaries, housing and health care due to them.

Amira Agarib

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