So You Desperately Need a Maid?

I still receive comments on my previous post Campaign for Domestic Worker’s Rights in Kuwait, which I’m happy for as it obviously still sparks discussion.  And I decided want to discuss this issue a bit further. Let’s not talk about the human rights of the staff but about the very conditions of having a maid in your home.

Many times I have heard people saying that there are two sides of the coin when discussing the situation for domestic staff in the Gulf, talking about unreliable house staffs that are not doing their job or violating rules. I’ve heard of staff abusing the kids they’re babysitting, staff seducing the husband, seducing the drivers, seducing each other, stealing money and running off. I’ve been asked if I would like to have a person living with me who I couldn’t trust either with work tasks or with my kids.

So here’s my take on things.

No, I wouldn’t want someone to hit my kids or steal my things. I wouldn’t want to live with someone I didn’t trust or felt uncomfortable with. I would be angry too if that happened to me. So guess what? I wouldn’t bring someone to live in my house in the first place.

Because it’s risky to leave your kids to a stranger, who is not supervised during the days and who probably doesn’t have a special training to care for kids. Add to that being discriminated in the society you live in, having men asking you for sex on the street only because you’re Asian and they assume you’re a prostitute, and a forced separation from your family back home, maybe even your own children. Then you don’t have much love to give to someone elses kids. And if that person also will feel hurt or offended by you – do you think they will feel a natural will to care and love your kids? If you’re worried, why do you even put yourself and your kids in that situation?

And this question of mine brings us to the next page, which is “I have to have a maid”. This is the origin of all the maid-talk among women in beauty salons and coffee shops in the Gulf, the constant complaining and bickering. They have to have a maid but trust none of them. What keeps puzzling me when I hear these conversations is, do these women have 14 kids like Octomom in America? Probably not. Are they working poor, holding down two full time jobs in order to be able to pay their rent, why they never have the time to clean the house? Probably not. So why do they so desperately need a maid?

I could here give an account for my girlfriends throughout the years that ended up single parents and were managing each day on their own; school, the extra job, picking up/bringing to school/bringing to the doctor the kids, changing diapers, carrying grocery bags, washing, cleaning and cooking. But I won’t, because I know that you who need to have a maid know these single moms, too. I just have to ask: if the majority of the world’s population can manage it without a maid, why can’t you?

Photo credit: Vimeo.com

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7 thoughts on “So You Desperately Need a Maid?

  1. I read your post, Campaign for Domestic Worker’s Rights in Kuwait. And now this one. I do not advocate ill treatment of domestic workers, or any other workers for that matter. However, I understand why your friends in the Middle East have maids. It is cultural, there’s so much to explore in that statement. In Africa, we have them too. But when I moved to Europe, I found that they are almost non-existent.

    So, if you’ve grown up with domestic servants, when you have your own home, it is the norm. If you grew up in Europe and aren’t used to them, you’ll find it strange.

    In a win-win situation, the domestic workers and their employers, enjoy an amiable relationship, and after working for several years, the employers provide a platform for the domestic worker to further their dream, whether it is higher education, owning a business, etc. In the real world, especially today, we don’t always have a win-win.

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    • Yes of course I have different views on how a household can be managed when I come from a part of the world where it’s not used. And in a perfect world it would be a good chance for poor people to work their way up. But in the Gulf I dare to say they are underpaid and extremely exploited. They have no legal rights whatsoever why the whole situation can be dangerous for everyone involved (there are quite a few cases of abuse from the domestic staff towards the children in their care), why I want everyone involved in the domestic staff-business in the Gulf to reflect about it.

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  2. The answer to why they have a maid is because they can 😉 It’s very affordable in the Gulf comparing to Europe. And as in any “cheap goods” case, the quality is not guaranteed. Neither the quality of service nor of “the management”. I don’t see anything wrong in the idea of having someone to help you around in general, but as always “the devil is in details”.

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  3. Pingback: Me, An Ignorant White Person | Sweden and the Middle East Views

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