Tuesday, July 23, 2013

150 requests for Ethiopian domestics withdrawn

25% housemaids sent back within 2 months of arrival

Saudi Gazette report

DAMMAM – One-hundred-and-fifty applications to recruit female Ethiopian workers have been cancelled, Alsharq daily reported on Sunday.

Recruitment companies also revealed that 25 percent of Ethiopian housemaids that came to Kingdom so far were returned within months due to their alleged strange conduct and beliefs.

Director General of the Executive Office for the Council of Health Ministers in the GCC countries and Secretary General of the Federation of Arab Hospitals Tawfiq Khoja said crimes committed by these housemaids in the Kingdom over the last two years, including killing of children, were motivated by their beliefs.

He said: “These crimes should not be linked to the workers’ mental state.”

Khoja said four health centers out of 15 in Ethiopia licensed to examine workers have been closed down over the past two years after a joint panel set up by the GCC countries discovered that they had committed violations.

The panel carries out inspection tours to verify the qualification of these centers, he said, adding the number of Ethiopian workers who have entered the Gulf region since the beginning of 2013 has reached 167,994 male and female workers.

Khoja said they are re-examined after entry. He added that the Health Council has powers to approve the health centers for conducting tests on workers in the countries from which they are recruited.

He said the preliminary tests for domestic workers include a physical and psychiatric examination. Those who have any psychiatric or mental diseases like epilepsy and depression cannot be recruited.

The problem with testing for mental illnesses, said Khoja, is that the examination is conducted by a general practitioner or an internist and not a psychiatrist.

Chairman of the National Committee for Recruitment Saad Al-Baddah criticized the quality of psychiatric examinations for workers, saying they were not stringent enough.

Saudis were divided on the Ministry of Labor’s announcement to stop recruitment from Ethiopia.

The recruitment offices witnessed a flow of citizens obtaining refunds for canceled contracts to hire Ethiopian workers.

Some Saudis demanded the deportation of housemaids while others said they installed hidden cameras in various corners of their homes to monitor the actions of their maids round the clock.

Some families decided to take their housemaids to a psychiatrist to examine them and make sure they had no psychiatric disorders while others said they hid sharp implements from the kitchen.

Others said they tried to make their housemaids happy by increasing salaries or giving valuable gifts.

It was confirmed that all Ethiopian housemaids who committed horrific crimes against children in the Kingdom were being treated kindly by their sponsor families.

The families said the housemaids were acting normally and there was no indication that they would commit crimes.

Tariq Al-Habib, a psychiatrist, said there were seven behavioral indicators that must not be ignored if displayed by an housemaid: being quick tempered, staying aloof, talking to oneself, laughing without a reason, irrational actions, breaking and smashing things when angry and paranoid behavior.

Meanwhile, an official at the Ethiopian embassy in Riyadh said there is joint coordination between the concerned authorities in the Kingdom and Ethiopia to crack down on the organized smuggling of housemaids across the borders.

He said his country’s embassy is striving to prevent the entry of unidentified persons and illegal residents.

It is also following up continuously any crimes committed by its citizens in Saudi Arabia, he said.