//Maids admit to faking claims of abuse

Maids admit to faking claims of abuse

By Sunita Menon,Gulf News Reporter, 06/18/2006

 Dubai: Housemaids who seek a short cut towards repatriation often blame their sponsors by using flimsy excuses, said a senior Indian consulate official on Saturday.
Neelima, an Indian housemaid, said: "All I need to do is file a complaint with the consulate of being mistreated by my sponsor, when I am ready to go back home."

"I wanted to earn more and so I absconded. I used to receive Dh700 as my monthly wage. But soon realised that other maids or domestic helpers who work part-time in five to six houses per day manage to earn up to Dh2,000 and Dh3,000," she said.

Neelima told Gulf News that with the help of some of her colleagues she now works at five houses every day.

"In total I work in 10 houses. I have worked out a timetable under which I attend to each house on alternate days," she said.

Her charges include Dh300 to do the cooking, Dh550 to Dh600 for washing and cleaning the house, she also provides a weekly massage package for Dh400 per month.

In reply to the type of complaint she plans to register against her sponsor she said: "I will just say that I was made to work long hours. That is enough. If I complain of physical torture there is always a risk of getting entangled with the law. It might make my leaving the country more difficult," she said.

Similarly another Bangladeshi housemaid, who is also working illegally, charges Dh10 per hour.

Such cases are instantly identified by officials when maids who claim abuse and who are then offered safe housing prefer to stay on their own.

B.S. Mubarak, consul for labour and welfare, said: "Non-genuine cases also come to light when further enquiries are made to the maid. As a consulate we look into every complaint that is brought to our notice. In this particular case as well we get in touch with the sponsor."

He said there were cases in which the sponsors obliged and provided the maid with a return air ticket.

Mubarak said there had been plenty of cases in which sponsors kept the consulate informed when their maids absconded.

"For example if a particular housemaid who is a runaway approaches us with complaints against her sponsor, we are aware that she is an absconder since her sponsor had already kept us informed at the time when she ran away," he said.

Mubarak said that India has imposed strict regulations on sponsoring housemaids and that this has played a significant role in reducing cases of mistreatment.

"People cannot bring Indian women who are below 30 years of age on a housemaid's visa. Housemaids are registered with the consulate," he said.