Political Stewardship: Maid Abuses – Political Will Is Needed For Lawful Protection of Women Citizens Who Work As Maids
Maids are generally considered to be domestic workers for anyone who can afford to pay them their meager remuneration. This description alone leads to all types of abuses. We have to look at maids as more than just domestic workers.
In order to resolve maid abuses, a political stewardship understanding of maids should be upheld nationally by every sending and recipient country. Maids should be considered “.” Anything short of this kind of minimum understanding of maids is short-changing the women citizens who through their back-breaking toils contribute to a national economy and the well-being of their families.
Maid abuse cases are not isolated cases of certain countries only. A random scanning of maid abuses in news media has reports on maid abuses in countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Gulf States and Middle East etc. Maid abuses reported in news media are just the tip of the iceberg. For every reported case, there are countless unreported cases that go unnoticed. These are horrific and inhuman crimes committed behind closed doors.
The crimes committed against maids range in severity as well as in its criminal and sadistic nature. Maids have been forced to work without pay. Maids have been verbally abused. Maids have been made to work without reasonable rest periods. Maids have been made to work in multiple sites for the same pay. Maids have been physically tortured: starved, punched, burned and made to swallow nails, sliced, scourged with hot water, chained like dogs and made to drink their own urine. Maids have been molested, raped and sodomized. Maids have been used as sexual slaves. Maids have been murdered and their bodies dump like rubbish in public places. If these are not horrific and inhuman crimes, what is?
Is there justification for maid abuses? By any cultural, religious or moral standards, there is no justification for maid abuses. It is when maids are considered domestic workers, persona non-grata, human cattle, or human dispensable tools, that their abuses are justified. Even if a recipient country justifies maid abuse, it is the national duty of a sending country to defend and protect its citizens, especially their women. If a government cannot protect its own citizens, (especially women), what good are they as a governing power? Political powers, if not employed for the protection of its citizens especially women, becomes meaningless and irrelevant as governing powers. So, sending countries should use their political powers to defend their national human resources who work in other countries. Why maid abuses need political resolutions?
Recipient nation-states usually explain away, cover-up or ignore the complaints of maid abuses by a single individual or group of individuals who are not their citizens. It usually takes a high profile media exposure before certain countries had even acknowledged an abuse. It has been shown in past news reports, how maid abuse issues in certain countries have been swept under their national bureaucratic carpet and the criminal culprits have got off leniently or with impunity. Certain country seems to suffer from legal and moral apathy when it involves abuses of women citizens of other countries within their jurisdiction. What does this legal and moral apathy indicate about their value system regarding foreign women citizens? Only in few cases, have criminals who abuse maids, been prosecuted in an open court and given a reasonable punishment. To those nations who did their duties! Bravo! Bravo! It is in the context of such national and moral apathy of recipient nations that the sending nations have to employ political leverage to ensure the protection of their national human resources and citizens. It is more efficient for a government to deal with a government on issues of national interest. Maid abuses should be considered a national interest as it involves the national human resources, especially their women citizens.
Here are few reasons of why maids get abused in recipient countries.
The first and foremost reason, why maids get abused in recipient countries is because, there is a lack and sometimes no national polices on maid recruitment and employment in sending and recipient countries. Maid recruitment and employment when is considered a private business transaction leads to abuses that has no control. As long as sending and recipient countries ignore the need to have national policies, maid abuses will continue without the necessary checks and balances. I believe, it is in the interest of the sending country to be proactive in initiating national polices on maid recruitment and employment. Even, if governing powers treat maid recruitment and employment as a private business matter, they can still introduce reasonable legislations and policies on a national level to protect their women citizens. This is the root solution to long term checks and balances for maid abuses. There is no detail, mechanics or administrative structure that cannot be thought-out in developing
The second reason for most maid abuses is the lack of professional maid recruitment services in countries. The basic drive of a maid recruitment agency is to make a quick profit. Most of them don’t have concern for the welfare of the citizens the recruit. They are even no more bothered about the background of potential employers who could turn out to be criminals. Their inability to check, appraise, discern and follow-up professionally coupled with their narrow profit-minded mindset and attitude is a contributing factor to maid abuses.
There is a lack of legal, social and psychological support networks for maids especially in recipient countries. As such, maids who face abuses can only find support in other maids, which is limited, as both also need support. I know certain religious institutions and NGO(s) are attempting to fill in these needs. But, until these needs for Maid Support Networks are established systematically and comprehensively under the umbrella of a national policy for maid protection, its lack will continue to be another contributing factor for maid abuses that goes unnoticed and not highlighted.
Certain employers even the so-called educated ones, have abusive mindsets and attitudes towards maids. In their distorted thinking, the meager amount they agree to pay a maid, entitles them to abuse the minds, bodies and spirits of their maids. In short, they convince themselves erroneously, that they own the maids like slaves or like any of their other material assets. When such erroneous and psychologically sick mindsets and attitudes are formed and maintained, maid abuse will be in full force. The more psychologically powerful an employer considers himself/herself to be, the more abusive they become towards their maids. These psychologically sick employers deliberately ignore the fact that their maids are the national human resources and citizens of another country who have all the rights just like them. The meager amount that they pay the maids sometimes does not compensate for the time and labor given by the maids. It is the vicious cycle of exploitation of economic poverty which the psychologically sick employers use to their advantage. If any employer or their representatives justifies maid abuses, I would suggest that they voluntarily allow themselves to be abused to know what is the pain and suffering that they inflict on others. If a recipient country justifies the abuse of the citizens of a sending country, then they should not complain when their citizens undergo any sort of abuses at the hands of others in foreign lands. It is sad to see in news reports that the judiciary processes of certain recipient countries, allow criminals of maid abuses to get away either with impunity or leniency.
Impunity and leniency shown by the judiciary processes of a recipient country in the event of maid abuses creates an atmosphere of risk and danger to all foreign maids who wants to work in such a country. The governments of the sending country should warn their women citizens of the dangers of going to countries that fails to protect them. Again, many times this doesn’t happen because the sending countries do not want to offend their political friend. So, the women citizens who are not warned get abused again and again. In the light of impunity and leniency of prosecution of maid abuse criminals in certain countries, the following are suggestions as how a sending country can confront this issue in a realistic manner:
Every time there is a high profile case of maid abuse, there will a short period of media attention on the case. Ordinary citizens would demonstrate to show solidarity with the victims. Political leaders of sending countries will comment in a discreet manner with similar discreet replies from the leaders of the recipient country. Everything is discreet and done diplomatically. That’s it. Case closed. Then, the next abuse takes place. The scenario repeats itself. Does it sound familiar?
When citizens of a democratic country elect their leaders to governing powers, one of the national expectations is that, they will be defended and protected by their leaders. Protection of citizens requires the political will to be exercised on behalf of the citizens locally and in foreign lands. All the discreet talks, diplomacy, citizens’ demonstrations and media attention will avail to nothing, until a real deliberate exercise of political will is employed to protect its citizens. The logic is simple. Though, humanitarianly and morally speaking, recipient countries of maids have a duty to protect foreign human resources. But for whatever the reasons, if they are indifferent in their response, the duty to protect falls back primarily on the government of the sending country. So, what will be the responses of the government of sending countries? The decisions they make will decide whether there will be moves towards the creation of systems like:
Comprehensive national maid protection policies in sending and recipient countries,
Promotion of governmental and Ngo maid support networks,
Implementation of professional maid training in human rights,
A creation of bilateral and multilateral systems for managing, monitoring and resolving maid abuses,
Non-response or an apathetic response by a sending country on maid abuses sends a dangerous and wrong message to perpetrators of maid crimes in recipient nations. Bilateral relationships between two countries are important in politics. However, the well-being and lives of citizens especially women, cannot be sacrificed for bilateral or multilateral political relationships. The citizens come first before any bilateral or multilateral political relationships. In the event, a country scarifies the wellbeing and lives of its citizens for bilateral or multilateral relationships, it is sending out a wrong message to the entire world. The message is clear: “we prioritize political relationships over the wellbeing and lives of our citizens. No matter what you do to our citizens, we value your political relationships more.” When that happens, the citizens become targets for abuses. So, there is only one way out for sending countries. They must protect their national human resources against all threat, local or foreign. They must especially protect their women who are their daughters, sisters, and mothers. Don’t expect a recipient country to do the job that one as a sending country should have done first – protect your national human resources. This is part of political stewardship.
Qualifications: Th. Dip (MTBI, 1978); Th.B. (MBTS, 1982); MSCP (AU, summa cum laude, 2010)
Professional Status: Counselling Psychologist
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