Life of a Housemaid: Indonesian Domestic Helpers Abused Badly, Zero Compassion

Sexual harassment, non-payment of salaries and poor living conditions are among the reasons why a growing number of Indonesian women abandon their employers, diplomatic sources here said.

Cases of abuse reported by Indonesian domestic helpers to their mission is increasing over the years, the Gulf Times reported yesterday, releasing data provided by the mission. The cases of absconding maids has increased to 261 this year compared to 182 last year.

Some women complained of incompatibility with their sponsor, illness and homesickness. In addition, 27 housemaids admitted that they had been staying in Qatar beyond their contract period.

These numbers, however, do not present a complete picture of the situation of domestic workers in Qatar since there are an estimated 12,000 Indonesian maids here, the embassy official said.

However, what is certain is that new employment rules imposed by Indonesian authorities on Qatari recruiters since June 2005 have had no success in curbing the number of abuses reported to the mission.

Starting from June 2005, Indonesia lifted a ban on the recruitment of Indonesian housemaids to the Gulf countries and implemented a new legal framework which aimed to regularize recruitment procedures and labor contracts.

The new rules also set minimum wages for skilled and unskilled workers.

A skilled maid in Qatar was earlier paid monthly around 600 Qatari riyals (Dh600) but the new rules brought the amount up to more than 900 Qatari riyals for an Indonesian maid.

"Either they pay the amount fixed by our Government or they will have to look elsewhere for domestic helpers," a diplomat told Gulf News.

Jakarta also rejected a proposal by Qatari recruitment agencies to bring down the basic wage and imposed labor contracts which had to be legalized by the authorities of both countries.

The Asian country hoped that new and more stringent rules could help decrease the cases of abuse and tortures inflicted on Indonesian domestic helpers and discourage the recruitment of unskilled workers in Qatar.

Source: Gulf Times