Sri Lanka to phase out maids going to Saudi

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Sri Lanka will gradually stop allowing women going to Saudi Arabia to be housemaids after a Sri Lankan was executed in the country over the death of an infant in her care, the Colombo government has said.

The Indian Ocean island nation recalled its envoy to Saudi Arabia in response to the beheading on January 9 of Rizana Nafeek, who was sentenced to death in 2007 accused of killing her employer's daughter while she was bottle-feeding.

The government said it would raise the minimum age for female domestic workers to be eligible to seek employment in Saudi Arabia to 25 years from the present 21 with an eye on eventually stopping such employment altogether.

"Gradual phase-out is the idea," said government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella. "We can't stop it overnight. It's a gradual process and increasing the age limit is part of that."

A third of the two million Sri Lankan maids working abroad are in Saudi Arabia, according to the country's foreign employment bureau.

Expatriate worker remittance, the top foreign exchange earner in the $59bn economy, hit a record $5.43bn in the first 11 months of 2012, higher than its annual peak of $5.14bn hit in 2011, central bank data showed.

Many households in the Middle East are highly dependent on housemaids from African and South Asian countries.

In some cases of reported domestic abuse, maids have attacked the children of their employers after they were mistreated themselves.

In the case of Nafeek, the Saudi Interior Ministry said, the infant was strangled after a dispute between her and the baby's mother.

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Posted by: Anonymous

A tragedy for all involved. Killing the poor lady seems a bit harsh considering her age etc. If proper training was given then such things may not happen. Also the way the treat their maids is unacceptable. There are so many cases of people treating them like slaves or worse than they would animals. They dont even have windows in their rooms. Their A/C units are not like the rest in the houses but their rooms are warmer because they are small. Its about time the law makers considered human rights. After all they are often the ones raising the kids. I looked after my children and would see so many maids in the park playing with the kids and no parents to be seen. And lastly dont make them wear pajamas, let them be individuals just like the rest of us.

Laborers too should be mentioned. They often die and nothing is heard of them. If this was any other part of the world these things would not happen.

Posted by: JLD

Nezaud, it is a tragedy for the parents but maybe that will teach them not to abuse other people's children just because they are underprivileged. Domestic helpers are NOT slaves. They have feelings like you and me. It's about time Gulf and Arab countries put some laws to protect these people who are raising your children and cleaning your homes. It's a two way street. They need a job and you need a helper.

Capital punishment makes the punisher just as bad as the person who has committed the crime.

Posted by: Steady

As usual the posturing by politicians to ride the domestic storm! These jobs are needed for the country and the maids themselves to break out of their cycle of poverty hence they should establish an induction support structure and maid cells in embassies instead of this hypocritical posturing!

Posted by: procan

Having your head cut off pretty much ends your cycle of poverty.

Posted by: ASM

It is a right step taken by Srilanka. I hope other nations like Indonesia, India and Philipines too stop supplying housemaids to these rogues. Let those rich Saudi females do their own household works and look after their babies.

Posted by: R.Cherry

Appreciate your comments Mr.Nezud.... but as every one know third world countries are depending on non-resident foreign currencies to support the economy min 40% but unfortunately the actual the fact behind for making up this amount is human blood and tears...I bow my head to the brothers and sisters who are in the Middle-east specially for paying their life for the cause of the nations. I salute you.
And force the diplomatic community to raise your voice, and make it your only goal to serve and protect them.

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