Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Arabia: Severe punishments for sexual and physical abuse against maids - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat-Dr. Ahmed El Zamel, the under secretary of state for the ministry of labor and laborers affairs, stated that the phenomenon of runaway maids within Saudi community, reflects a major social problem. This problem entails numerous factors including the owner of the residence and many irresponsible officials assigned to import house servants who do so in an unorganized manner.

He confessed that these maids are subjected to physical and sexual abuse. He added in a recent press conference that the government is working towards providing incoming labor with security. He also said that the ministry of labor via an assigned authority, is closely observing such reported cases of abuse against foreign labor, noting that any person who is found guilty will not be allowed to further recruit incoming laborers.

El Zamel has stated that three conditions have been set to provide companies with visas. These conditions include recognizing the percentage of Saudi laborers in comparison to foreign laborers before putting forward their requests. He noted that the ministry of labor had accepted the demands of one single company, which had applied for 8000 visas. He asserted that the government had not dismissed the concept of foreign labor but rather it assured that the persistence of sponsorship was in accordance to the needs of the job market.

El Zamel had also noted that the decrease in the number of visas had reached 36% during the first quarter of the current year, noting that government plans carefully tackled the actual need for projects and does not distribute visas without thorough examination. El Zamel had justified the fact that the ministry of labor only grants big corporations with visas by saying that they successfully meet the requirements of firstly realizing the rate of Saudi laborers and its implementation of developmental projects that Saudi Arabia is in need of, such as contracting, building roads and barrages and petroleum projects.

He explained the government”s decision to allow women to work in shops that specifically sell female products. This decision had been given a grace period of two years to enable shop owners to make the necessary changes to their shops and employees. He also mentioned that the recruitment campaign already undertaken by the government, resulted in only 36, 000 applicants out of an expected 155,000 in the whole of Saudi Arabia.

Concerning the delusive recruitment that some companies carry out, El Zamel noted that laws and regulations will be used against any company that forges information, and that such companies will be deprived of importing foreign laborers for five years. El Zamel reported that an employer was punished for counterfeiting information related to some companies.

In the meantime, he negated rumors that have been circulating recently within the media, that the ministry of labor had allocated a sum of twenty Million Saudi Riyals to some institutions aiming at providing cultural programs that increase awareness of women”s work within the Saudi community and their estimated role in economic development. He asserted that these claims are untrue, but that there are possibilities of such programs once studies are ready for this sort of project.