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The ‘Maid of Honour’

Recently, a reader sent in  photograph (to a newspaper) caught my attention. It was a poster (in a hotel) advertising a special offer on a weekend brunch . The offer was such:

Adults – 259 net (including unlimited drinks)

Kids  – 100 net ( special kids meal + including unlimited drinks)

Maid – 100 net (kids meal and drinks)

Of the few places that I have visited and lived; UAE is where I have seen domestic help so popular. In an average household with both the parents working, two school going kids and a fussy pet, there will always be an asian help (or known as ‘maid’) there.

So coming back to that photograph and its contents; gone are the days when humans were categorised as adults and kids, now it is adults, kids and maids (atleast in this part of the world).

Maids though are adults; according to the current standards (to the place I live) need to be fed less (compared to what a nine year old can eat), made to work hard for 16-17 hours a day (7 days a week), shelter them in a room with no windows (ideally smaller than a dog’s kennel) deny any possible medical help and pay them as little as you think is required!

Whenever there is news of domestic help exploitation, people are quick to react, ‘the government needs to do that, do this!’ I understand their point and but also appreciate the recent laws passed by the UAE government to protect them.

Even though it is a 22 year old indonesian (from a family of 14 members), or a 28 year old filipino (an unwed single mother), 35 year old indian (whose husband had got the family on debts and have kids going to school)- at the end all these stories end the same.

  How many times have we seen the lady of the house walk free while a weaker looking girl follows her with hand full of bags; or the maid is let into the gym to operate the threadmill for her boss; or she sipping from a small can of orange juice and looking how the four year old ‘baba’ (kid) is force fed a packet of french fries; and she running behind her sponsor to get an extra 100 dirham note, at the airport while she is leaving to her home country.

Why do people forget that this girl, who is a couple of years elder to your  own darling is also a human being, and the apple of  eye of some mother somewhere? Why do some men (of the house) regard them the toy to satisfy their lust? How can you inflict pain on a human being who takes care of your child? How can you give her monthly a meagre amount that isnt even sufficient for your day’s shopping spree? And how can you expect her to keep working when you are at the spa relaxing because of your hectic week?

This treatment towards domestic help is not country specific or of recent in time. I have heard stories from my grandmother about how they (domestic helpers then) were fed; in a hole  dug on the ground, a banana leaf on top of it and stale food on that.

It is our attitude towards them that needs the change. They are people who needs to be treated with love and dignity because they are doing something for your house that you cannt!!!


About sithararajesh

I am fascinated with this world!!!

19 responses »

  1. This is where i like some countries like singapore where they have strict laws aganist such brutalities and yes they do implement and follow ,this is why such countries are said to be “fine countries”

  2. and again sithara comes up wid a strong voice which says shes ready to take up challlenges for the down trodden ones!!! excellent work keep it coming sithu!!!

  3. Hi Again.

    well i am one of the lucky ones or unlucky ones (u can decide)who was taken care by a maid..well i am not sure if a male includes in the male list,so it must be servant,
    since my was a bad cook my dad hired a servant who cooks and looks after d house from the begining.
    During that time (90’s) the maid culture was not as popular as of now. But we had treated him as a part of out family and i always used to adress him respect with Ikka(muslim term for brother).
    Nowadays its not the same as u said.i used to live in a community villa in mirdiff.our neighbours were emiratis.they had 2 maids to take care fo their house and kids.
    Whenever they get time they used to come and talk wit my wife and mother in law and cry about the hardships they face by the emirati families.
    Within one year there was atleast 6 maid who kept on changing coz some runaway or some just go back home.
    God save this wonderful people and give them all the luxuries in this world.

    Sethu good topic.keep writing.


    • i am so glad you liked it…

      i dont know if you have noticed, it is not just some emirati families; but some indian families also treat their domestic helpers in a shody manner. See as a kid you were taught to address your domestic help with respect, but in most houses the kids are taught to ill treat them. These kids will grow up and repeat the cycle (and poverty might force somebody else to take up these roles later).. in one hand we want people to have compassion and respect for mankind but on the other hand this is what we end up in. i dont know if it makes sense to pray for people in far away places and sent money for those in distress and ill treat someone who lives right with you…

      and Sethu is my dad.. I am Sithara (and if you are going with what others address me; it is Sithu 🙂 )

  4. This topic has gt lots of importance sithu.. very recntly i came to noe thru ma watchman that a filippino maid hu stays next to ma flat is getng tortured by an emirati fam very brutally. hardly she cud slep 3 to 4 hrs in a day nd she has to tke care of 2 buddas hu doesnt slp at nyt. felt soo pity seeing dt gal hus just 24,we r helpless tho. as u said its d attitude twrds dem needs d change. ive heard dat filippino embassies are very strng in uae. I duno if deyve gt any resolution to protect des kinda people. i strongly recommend that der shud b a system n wich dey can express their feelngs and notify the embassy, and denn embassy has to make a deal with the govt against this brutal act. i appreciate the govt officials wen dey visit small cafeterias and charge a huge fine on decayed food, but it wuddbe great job frm deyr side if dey give 0.5% consideration to thes kinda activities.

    gudd one sithu..

  5. vaishali sooranagi

    Amazing blog situ!! i completely with ur voice here!! i also dnt understand…the inequality we treat people!!! keep up the good work and off the record…u such an a ANGEL 😉

  6. What you wrote is so true. What if NOBODY would apply for a maid anymore, whether its in the Middle East or in Asia. There will be scarcity of maids that there salary might be driven to increase. If nobody goes to the Middle East anymore, alot of people won’t have maids anymore. Let’s see how they can cope without US, maids.

    • hi..

      i am glad you like this post. i do agree.. in some parts of the world, it is the excess availability of labour that leads to low wages and exploitation. recently a colleague was telling me, where he was being interviewed by a prospective domestic help and she would decide if she wants to work with them.

      lets hope things straighten out for all 🙂

  7. Talking about maids. there is an article today in express paper regarding the outsourcing of nannies. good one to read.

  8. I have heard many stories of maids in middle east. Recently I heard about a women from sri lanka being nailed and they found many nails on her body…I really dont know how a human being could cause another human pain or treat so rudely. Keep up the good work sithu..I like people who stand for what’s right. Thumbs up for your post!!

  9. Excellent Sithu! I really appreciate that you never hide your opinion. Good going girl.

  10. Wonderfully written sithu. Its something that money makes people to do. You have money, you own a human being to make them do whatever you want. Specially in this part of the world(U.A.E), its real pathetic.
    On the other hand, we have some real cunning maids as well. I have had a real bad experience. A couple of years back, when me and my family had been to India (Kerala) for our 1 month vacation, we hired a maid (my mom found her through some newspaper). She was a lovely lady in her late 30’s and was very helpful. She used to finish the work in our house and then go to our ancestral house which is close by and do all the work over their as well. As a result, very soon she was able to impress everyone. And let me not lengthen it much, and tell you the climax. One fine day, she vanishes from our home with my moms bag(which had some of moms jewelery and some big time cash). So do I call it maid of honor or maid of dishonor..:P
    So the point is, a major part of the maids/servants cannot be trusted. And we hear so many of such stories. And it is probably because of these stories that make these people tend to ignore them(maids) and behave rudely to them.
    And as a result the good ones are also being tortured!


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