Maids are not machines but human beings

I AM happy to learn that an online campaign has been launched in Saudi Arabia asking people not only in the Kingdom but also around the world to be kind to foreign domestic workers whom they said should be treated humanely.

The online campaign is popularly known as “Rahma Campaign” which calls for a more “compassionate” or “merciful” (Rahma) treatment towards domestic helpers who have been subjected to all kinds of abuses in the hands of their foreign employers.

The online campaign has recently gained ground when a Saudi journalist, writer and TV program presenter identified as Turki Al-Dakheel gave his support. Al-Dakheel is said to be an influential figure on Twitter with more than 123,000 followers.

In his now popular opinion article “Torturing housemaids” which appeared 13 April 2010, Al-Dakheel called on his fellow Muslims to look at domestic helpers “not as machines but as human beings” who should be treated with respect and dignity.

Mindful of the various forms of abuse these foreign domestic workers are exposed to, including rape, sexual harassment, passport confiscation and physical abuse, Al-Dakheel called for an end to such abuses that go against the basic principles of Islam. “We are actually living in a whirlpool of traditions we consider to be Islamic, when actually they are outdated and inhumane principles that we do not dare to contest or question,” he added.

It is always a shock to learn about the horrible stories of our domestic helpers abroad. We should not be sending our people to work as housemaids abroad where they remain always vulnerable to abuses.  But since we do not have jobs to offer them here, we can at least work for a more humane working condition for them.

I’m glad a campaign like this is coming out and I hope that more and more people support it so that it will bring a positive impact on behalf of our overseas Filipino workers who have been experiencing cruelty and abuse in a foreign land.


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