Saudi government has repatriated 1,896 housemaids including Sri Lankan who had sought redress for alleged human rights violations in the Kingdom.
The Riyadh police said in a statement this week that the domestic workers were from countries including Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia.
The Kingdom has plans to start recruiting domestic workers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Laos and India.
Police said the government protects the rights of workers and sponsors according to Islamic law.
According to a diplomat from a labor exporting country, the common problems faced by maids include nonpayment of wages, ill-treatment, sponsors refusing to send them home when they complete their contracts and lack of communication with employers.
He said some cases at the mission are settled amicably and the maids are sent back to their sponsors. “The remaining cases are sent to the deportation center,” he said.
The workers often bear the costs of repatriation. However, in some cases the deportation center or the ministry pays for their fights home. The deportation center is in Olaya district and has a capacity to house more than 200 maids at a time.
Following the end of the amnesty, there has been a sharp drop in the number of maids running away to their foreign missions in Jeddah and Riyadh.
An Asian diplomat based in Jeddah said the main reason for this is that there are tough penalties involved. He said the mission used to get more than 100 runaway maids a month but now receives fewer than 10.
Recently, a labor court in Jeddah asked two runaway housemaids to pay SR25,000 each to be deported home.
An official attached to the labor department of an embassy said the other reason for the drop is that the Kingdom and his country have streamlined the recruitment process.
“Maids are content with the minimum salary of SR900. There is proper orientation for domestics including being taught basic Arabic,” he said.
A total of 5,179 domestic workers ran away from their Saudi sponsors in the six months from November 2013 to April 2014. These figures have been attributed to an annual pre-Ramadan exodus.
Brig. Gen. Malla Marzouq Al-Otaibi, spokesman for the Eastern Province Passport Department, said 1,543 maids ran away in November, 729 in December, 926 in January, 801 in February, 523 in March and 657 in April.
An earlier survey by the Maid Welfare Center found that about 80 to 120 maids run away from their sponsors every day, with most taking off from Riyadh followed by Makkah, Madinah and the Eastern Province.(Arab News)