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Weekends for maids means forbidden sexcapades, says UAE lawmaker

Archive Photo: There are around 750,000 domestic workers in the UAE [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 June, 2017

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Female domestic workers should not be allowed to have weekends off because they will have unlawful sexual relations and become pregnant, an Emirati parliamentarian has said.
Female domestic workers should not be allowed to have weekends because they will have unlawful sexual relations and become pregnant, an Emirati parliamentarian has said. 

Mohammad al-Ketbi made the remarks this week, arguing against new legislation in the United Arab Emirates that grants household workers greater rights.

"If I have a maid and I allowed her to go out, she will get involved in illicit relationships and tomorrow she will come back to me pregnant, and then there will be a problem," Ketbi, who represents Sharjah, told The National.

He added that he was less concerned about male workers: "I am only concerned with maids."

The UAE's federal national council on Wednesday passed a bill that gives domestic workers one day off per week, ensures that shifts do not exceed 12 hours and grants them 30 days of paid annual leave.

The new bill requires final approval from the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan to become law.

The move has been hailed as a milestone in workers rights in Gulf countries, which have long records of violating the rights of the millions of migrant workers in the region.

"Good move, at last: UAE FNC passes draft law on domestic workers to provide some basic rights," Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa director, Sarah Leah Whitson, tweeted.

In 2014, HRW reported on rampant abuses facing domestic workers in the UAE.

"Most [workers] said their employers confiscated their passports. Some accused their employers of having physically abused them and confined them to the homes," the report, which was based on interviews, said.

"Many said their employers had failed to pay the full wages due to them, had forced them to work excessively long hours without breaks or days off, or had denied them adequate food, living conditions, or medical treatment," it added.

There are around 750,000 domestic workers in the UAE, making up nearly 20 percent of the expatriate workforce, according to official statistics.

The kafala system used to employ unskilled foreign labour has also been criticised for putting too much power in the hands of employers.

Sponsored employees are dependent on their sponsors for their presence in the Emirates and subject to whatever conditions or whims their employers place on them.

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