Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH – The Center for Housemaids’ Affairs in Riyadh has hosted 200 Ethiopian maids over the past two months for refusing to work due to psychological problems, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported on Friday.
The Ministry of Labor, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior, has temporarily halted the recruitment of Ethiopian domestic workers until necessary studies of available data regarding crimes committed by them are completed. The ministry said a final decision would be made based on the findings of these studies.
The Kingdom was rocked by the gruesome murders committed by Ethiopian maids against children of their sponsors with some believing religious beliefs contributed to the murders while others believing the maids suffered from psychological and mental problems.
Earlier this year, an Ethiopian maid was arrested for killing her sponsor’s daughter and a few months later, another maid was arrested for killing a Syrian girl.
In recent months, a citizen and her child in Yanbu managed to run away from their maid who tried to kill both while a citizen in Zulfi governorate narrowly escaped his cleaver-wielding maid.
Other attacks include the killing of a child in Al-Ras, multiple stabbings of children in Hafr Al-Batin and Al-Ras and a hammer attack against a citizen.
The head of the Center for Housemaids’ Affairs at Riyadh police, Col. Abdulrahman Al-Jerayed, said the center offers many services to housemaids who work in different parts of the country. He said there are committees represented by governorate, police, the Passport Department, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) to deal with maids’ problems.
The maids are offered housing, food and medical services at the center, which deals with maids who refuse to work for their sponsors and those who are referred by police. The center also deals with runaway maids.
Col. Al-Jerayed said the center coordinates with the respective embassies of maids and their sponsors to solve any problems as soon as possible. He added that maids remain at the center for a maximum period of seven days, after which they are deported. The center receives 30-50 maids each day.
According to the head of the psychiatric ward at Al-Amal Hospital, Dr. Abdullah Al-Waylee, such crimes can only occur if determination, ability and chances are present.
“These crimes do not excuse us from the responsibility of allowing the culprit the chance to commit the crime. Such crimes typically take place due to poverty and mental and behavioral disturbances. In addition, some housemaids may be subjected to abuse at the hands of their host family and this results in a violent response,” he said, while adding that studies show family members are at an increased risk of violence in their homes than any other place.
“Maids running away or committing crimes is an indication that they have been subject to abuse. Families should be careful in dealing with and treating maids,” he added.