When children become victims of maids' revenge
Maids often take out their frustration on innocent children left in their care by parents
Sharjah - Maids from different cultural backgrounds commit various crimes as revenge for ill-treatment meted out to them
Crimes committed by domestic maids out of revenge are becoming a cause of concern for local authorities.
According to police records, maids who come from different cultural backgrounds commit various crimes including theft, assault and other unpalatable activities as revenge for the ill-treatment meted out to them by the employer.
Colonel Ali Saif Al Nadas, Director of Community Police at the Sharjah Police Department said most often, parents trust maids completely and entrust their little children to them.
A recent case in which an Indonesian maid allegedly tortured a nine-month-old baby girl by beating her continuously in the absence of her parents only shows how much the parents trusted the maid to leave their little child with her.
"The infant had bruises and fracture in the skull when she was brought to the hospital. According to the maid, the child was crying incessantly and she was often ill-treated by her employers. This made her beat up the child," said Col Nadas.
The Khorfakkan Police referred an Asian maid to the public prosecution after she was found guilty of adding a chemical substance in the feeding bottle of the infant of the family for whom she works.
A 27-year-old Indonesian house maid was arrested by the Sharjah Police for killing her baby born out of wedlock in Sharjah on Saturday.
The Ajman Police arrested an African maid for allegedly stealing jewellery worth Dh250,000 from the house of a family that employed her though she was not under their sponsorship. She told the police that she stole the money because she has been unpaid for months.
He added that the Sharjah Police recently rescued another infant from being killed by an Ethiopian maid who claimed that the mother had stayed out all night and slept during the day leaving the baby completely in her care.
Col Saif Al Matroushi, Director of CID at Ajman Police said most assaults against children involve maids who carry out the crimes out of revenge due to ill treatment.
He added that in this country, most maids are not trained nannies. Besides looking after children, they are burdened with household chores which is why most of them complain of being overworked.
They said the only solution to the issue is to treat maids well.
On the government's part, it has made employment contracts mandatory to ensure that housemaids and domestic workers get salaries, housing and health care due to them.
According to the police over 20 cases of assault on children were recorded in the last two years.
Dr Mohammed Lutfy, psychiatrist, said it is possible that some maids might have come from their countries with chronic diseases including mental illness, which could get triggered due to ill-treatment. Maids suffering from depression can resort to extreme action like harming children when they get angry.
"Psychometric examination of domestic workers must be conducted before they are recruited," said Dr Mohammed Lutfy.
He added that the UAE law requires medical testing for infectious diseases, but does not include mental assessments.
Major-General Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant Commander-in-Chief of the Dubai Police, said most maids come from different cultural backgrounds alien to this country's religion and tradition. Some cultures do not consider adultery or pregnancy out of wedlock forbidden. And in other cases, some housemaids use witchcraft and pour urine and other poisonous substances in the food served to employers.
He urged residents not to hire runaway maids who can be more dangerous. "As per the law, anyone employing a maid on someone else's sponsorship can be fined Dh50,000," he added.
Moreover, such maids do not hesitate to strike an illicit relationship with the employer's family member. There have been several cases of maids becoming pregnant and then abandoning or killing newborns, said Major-General Al Mansouri.
He urged mothers to monitor their homes with CCTV cameras.
From the court
Magistrate Dr. Ali Galadari of the Dubai Appeal Court said according to the court records, there are several cases of maids assaulting children. Sponsors should understand that according to the contract, maids are hired only to provide domestic help such as cooking, cleaning, laundry and other things. Unfortunately, sponsors depend on them to take care of their children, too. The maid should be treated as human beings and provided all rights, he added.
Parents must also train children to inform them about any harm caused to them by not only the maid but any stranger. Installing CCTV cameras is recommended for working parents to monitor their children to ensure safety.
Victims at the hands of maid
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Salim Al Mazmi, father of nine-month-old Salama who was tortured by the maid said the girl is in a critical condition with an internal head injury, fractured rib and bruises in various parts of the body.
Maids of African and Asian nationalities told Khaleej Times that they were overworked, underpaid and denied the opportunity to visit their families. Some of them said they were physically abused, too.
Raheel Debbab, an Ethiopian maid said she had run away from her sponsor because she was overworked and could only sleep four hours, She was not paid salary on time and was not given a day off to go shopping or to even send money to her family back home. "All this stressed me out and made me lose my temper," she said
Aimy, a Filipina, had another story to narrate. "My madam is a very nice lady and she treats me well and buys me everything. I love her children and treat them as my own. But I escaped from there because madam's husband sexually harassed me several time and I couldn't tell madam, as I did not want to create a discord. I left their home and decided to work on a part-time basis."
Zuhra Fatee, an Indonesian maid said she was beaten up, yelled at and locked up without food by her sponsor. So she hated the whole family, even the annoying children.
Al Mazmi said on searching the maid's room, the police found photographs of family members, pieces of paper and strands of hair which she used to practice black magic.
He urged parents not to leave their children alone with maids and depend on them completely. They should look for support from the extended family, he added
Al Mazmi added that the maid had been working with them for two years and they had not noticed any odd behavior. "We treated her well, though she often complained of a heavy workload. But we never expected her to harm our baby."
"We have installed cameras everywhere in the house, expect the bedroom and the maid beat the girl inside the bedroom," said the father.
Fatima Al Shamsi, another mother said one day she entered the house and heard the maid yelling at her children and calling them names. After that she installed cameras in rooms and it was revealed that the maid used to beat up her children while giving them a bath.
Ragad Al Baloushi another mother said child abuse by maids has become very common because mothers are busy working or are involved in social media. They completely rely on maids to raise their children. Raising children is not the job of the maid. "My nephews aged four and six were beaten up several times by the maid because they were very annoying and the maid could not tolerate them.
Here are the steps parents must take to prevent such incidents:
> Treat maids as human beings; train children to do so, too
> Do not hire runaway maids, they can be dangerous
> Employment contracts are mandatory to ensure housemaids get salaries, housing and health care due to them
> Do not burden nannies with household chores, which is why most of them complain of being overworked
> Conduct psychiatric examination of domestic workers before they are recruited
> Secure homes with CCTV cameras
> Train children to inform parents about any harm caused to them not only by the maid but any stranger
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