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Mon 8 Oct 2007 01:03 AM

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Saudi ads beg mercy for maids

A series of public service commercials is to promote better treatment of domestic helpers in kingdom.

A series of public service commercials is to urge the kinder treatment of domestic helpers in Saudi Arabia.

Arab satellite stations will air the ads after the expected end of Ramadan on October 12, news agency AFP reports.

Founder and chief creative director of Full Stop Advertising, Kaswara Al Khatib, told AFP commercials were originally planned for the holy month, however “people tend to be nice in Ramadan anyway, and we need to be nice to them (domestic staff) beyond Ramadan”.

Broadcast was also delayed out of concern that the message would be lost among the huge number of commercials aired during Ramadan, Al Khatib said.

The three commercials were created at a cost of $100,000, and financed by a non-profit subsidiary of the Saudi Binladin Group, launched by the father of Osama bin Laden.

One shows a maid and driver being abused by their Saudi employer, with the strapline “He who has no mercy will not receive mercy” taken from the Hadeeth, or sayings of the Prophet Mohammed.

A second ad shows a hostess at a dinner party telling her maid to “get out of my sight” while a third portrays a housewife ordering her maid “not to sleep until the house is spotless.”

Abuse of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia has been slammed by human rights groups, with the withholding of salaries and passports, physical assault and sexual abuse all recently reported in local press.

A Sri Lankan maid was rescued by the police last month after telephoning Arab News to report she had endured seven years of unpaid employment during which she had been imprisoned and abused.

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