Gulf maids in slavery: The suffering of foreign servants at the hands of their employers

First published 12 October 1995: Robert Fisk wonders why so many Filipinas and Sri Lankans suffer so dreadfully at the hands of Gulf Arab employers

Saturday 04 September 2021 21:30
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<p>Foreign maids are often accused of stealing or committing ‘immoral’ activities to justify their employers’ abuse</p>

Foreign maids are often accused of stealing or committing ‘immoral’ activities to justify their employers’ abuse

A glance through the archives of the Gulf newspapers is enough to show you what Filipina and Sri Lankan maids suffer at the hands of their Arab employers – quite apart from the judicial lashings so many receive from “Islamic” courts.

Beaten, burnt and sexually assaulted, they turn up in their dozens each year at their embassies in Riyadh, Kuwait City and Abu Dhabi to plead for sanctuary from their tormentors and a free passage home. One Arab Gulf state had to charter airliners to take home Indian and Filipina maids after they complained of rape and beatings by their employers.

Many employers defend their treatment by contending that the maids – generally hired for speaking English and accepting low wages – steal, torment children, commit “immoral” activities, or desert their jobs.

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