JEDDAH: It seems that the Human Rights Commission’s threat of severe punishment to lawbreakers has not made any impact on the growing trade in housemaids.
The arrival of Ramadan has revived this illegal market that ensures huge profits to the brokers of this illegal trade who earns up to SR14,000 for transferring the sponsorship of a housemaid.
Badr Bajaber of the permanent committee to combat human trafficking at the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC), said: “The paucity of housemaids in Ramadan usually provides a profitable market for trading in domestic workers because many families find it hard to get housemaids. They seek the help of brokers for the supply of housemaids before Ramadan. These brokers give shelter to runaway housemaids with the motive of sending them for work at a higher rate of wages.”
The Human Rights Commission has warned that the punishment for trading in female workers brings a 15-year jail sentence and a SR1 million fine. Brokers do not mind the threats and put more ads in the media to supply housemaids during Ramdan, Al-Watan daily reported.
The ads appear in newspapers and even on walls in public places with contact numbers for brokers. The crisis in the recruitment of housemaids from foreign countries has prompted brokers to raise their fees to manipulate the transfer of housemaids of various nationalities; brokers can charge more than SR30,000 for this illegal trade.
The fee to be paid by a family for the transfer of a Filipino housemaid is SR30,000, of which SR14,000 is the commission for the broker. While an Ethiopian or Kenyan maid can be had for SR18,000, the fee for a housemaid of Sri Lankan nationality is in the range of SR25,000 to SR28,000.
According to advertising agencies, the ads for transfer of sponsorship is mostly for women workers of four nationalities — Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Kenya, particularly just before and during Ramadan when the demand is very high.
Ads also appear on Internet sites where the broker’s fee goes higher than SR30,000 plus the SR4,000 monthly wage for the housemaid.
Saudi families have no choice but to use the services of the illegal brokers because the licensed recruiting offices fail to supply the housemaids at the time agreed upon in the contract.