Gulf Law at MSN News 7 August 2015
Dubai Police arrest 300 maids for absconding
Hundreds of maids were arrested during Ramadan for absconding from their employers, Dubai Police have said. Officers said some 300 were caught, particularly in the Naif area of Deira.
Details of the arrests came amid claims some domestic workers are heavily overworked by families during the holy month. One lawyer said some families expect workers to be available day and night, meaning many take a chance and flee.
Many of the 300, who were from a range of nationalities, went on to work illegally as cleaners, said Colonel Ali Salim Al Shamsi, director of the Infiltrators Department. Dubai Police did not link the runaways to being overworked, but Barney Almazar, director of Gulf Law, which works with the Philippines Embassy, said such cases are common.
He said: “On regular days, outside of Ramadan, a maid will wake up at 5am and finish by around 10pm. She can have small breaks in between. However, during Ramadan she is still on call from 10pm until the early morning. It is difficult to have a heavy workload, more so if you do not have enough sleep”.
He said some maids get into trouble with their employers for minor mistakes. Almazar said: “The maid may leave the household when her employer is on vacation. If she happens not to be at home when they return, she is reported to immigration”.
Another embassy official, who asked not to be named, said some employers’ demands mean their staff sleep “as little as two hours per night”.
Earlier this year the Ministry of Interior urged families to treat maids better. And Colonel Ahmad Al Meri, from Dubai CID, linked crimes by maids, including thefts and assaults against employers, to mistreatment.