Dubai: An Indian housemaid has become the owner of a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Dubai in just a little over one year. No, this is not one of those inspiring rags-to-riches stories you hear about in the UAE. Instead, it’s a tale of deceit and intrigue.
On paper Pratibha Prakash Rao is the owner of a firm. In reality she is struggling to make ends meet and, worse, has no clue how she ended up as a partner of Dubai-based Nargees Banu Technical Services LLC.
Bizarre. Domestic help Pratibha's passport with a residency visa showing her as partner of Nargees Banu Technical Services LLC
“I don’t even know what this company does and where it’s located,” said Pratibha, whose investor’s visa was stamped on January 26, 2016 and is valid until January 2019.
Pratibha, 55, from Mumbai, first came to Dubai in mid 2015 when an Indian couple who live on Al Fahidi Street brought her on a three-month visit visa to work as a domestic help.
“I was offered Dh1,025 per month to do household chores and look after two children including a newborn. I worked for the family for 10 months without ever knowing the status of my visa. However, the couple split over differences and my services were no longer required,” Pratibha recalled.
“When I asked for my passport to cancel my visa, my employer told me that it was with his friend V.K. who runs a maintenance firm and that I was on this third man’s (V.K.) sponsorship,” she added.
“I can barely write my name and had no idea of what devious plans were being hatched behind my back. As it turned out my documents were misused to get an investor’s visa issued in my name.”
Pratibha said she was unaware of the anomaly (identity theft actually) until someone pointed it out to her.
“I was shocked. I have been made the partner of a firm but do odd cleaning jobs to make a living. I earn a pittance most of which is forcibly taken by V.K. and his girlfriend Nargees Banu.”
Curiously Nargees Banu, after whom Nargees Banu Technical Services is named, also works as a maid. Pratibha alleged that she and V.K. are also holding her passport and Emirates ID.
“I want to go back to Mumbai to see my ailing father who has lost his eyesight, but they refuse to cancel my visa or return my passport. I met them as recently as last week,” she said wiping off her tears.
The duo denied any wrongdoing. “We’ve been looking for Pratibha for 10 months but she remains untraceable,” said V.K.
He refused to elaborate how he’s connected with Nargees Banu Technical Services but admitted getting a visa for Pratibha.
On her part, Nargees Banu also declined to respond to questions on why she made a housemaid a partner in her firm and that too without the latter’s knowledge and if Pratibha will be liable for any losses incurred by the company.
Questions about the nature of the business of her firm also remained unanswered.
Protection of rights
There are around 750,000 domestic workers in the UAE, comprising nearly 20 per cent of the expatriate workforce, according to official statistics. Sixty five per cent of them are based in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
A new draft law in the UAE seeks to protect the rights of these domestic workers covering their weekly day offs, 30 days of annual paid leave and retaining of personal documents like passports, ID cards and work permits.
The draft legislation seeks to amend a law passed by the Federal National Council in 2012 in order to regulate the domestic worker industry as per international standards.