Treat maids with respect and kindness. This is the message Dubai Police have sent out. The message of compassion during Ramadan bears special significance. It is a month of piety, a month to reflect, a time to feel the pain of the poor. Dignity is a basic human right. And it is the duty of every member of society to ensure that those who work as domestic help are accorded this dignity. But treating them with kindness and compassion should not be just during the month of Ramadan. Being compassionate towards those who are less unfortunate is a human value that must be practised all year round.
Maids come from impoverished homes and work to feed their families. They are under constant stress thinking about their future, which can be bleak. Cruel treatment adds to the stress that they are under.
The Dubai Police campaign ‘Treat them with kindness’ highlighted a very grave problem: human trafficking. Many maids, who run away from their sponsors, end up as victims of human trafficking.
Criminals convince these maids to abscond in the hope of a better salary and working conditions. If these maids are being abused by their employers, they often fall for the bait and then pay a very heavy price. The annual report of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking recorded eight such cases in Dubai in 2016, in which 31 suspects were arrested and 11 victims rescued.
Most of the cases involved absconding maids forced to work in prostitution. Dubai Police stressed that maids’ salaries must be paid on time. They must be given proper food and living conditions must be good. They should work eight hours a day and must be given a day off. They must not be treated as slaves. They have a right to a life of dignity. Treat maids just as you would want to be treated.