Maids with Mobiles — Employers Divided Over House Workers Using Cell Phones

Shahd Alhamdan
Saudi Gazette

With technology developing rapidly and its increased importance in our daily lives, especially for communication purposes, Saudi families are increasingly giving mobile phones to not only their children, but also their nannies and housemaids.

While some Saudi women say allowing maids their right to have own mobile phones is fair, others believe cell phones in the hands of maids could open ways for them to escape.

Some Saudi housewives are against the idea of letting maids use mobile phones, but they are forced to permit maids to use them to keep them employed.

Kholoud Alturki, a Saudi teacher who has a Kenyan maid, said her maid has a mobile phone and that it was her right and quite normal.

One Saudi employee in the private sector, Maryam Rubi, said: “Since when have you started enslaving people who were born with their freedom? It is acceptable to let a maid use her mobile phone. Let her communicate and talk rather than put her negative energy on the small children under her care.”

Yet some Saudi women think letting maids use mobile phones is a big mistake.

“Because her contacts with people outside the house could give her the chance to escape, and if not she will be busy talking and may not do her work. How come the maids used to work in the old days without mobiles or phones? She should be allowed to use it on Fridays or her weekly holiday to talk to her family if it’s necessary,” Saudi student Shahd Ziyad said.

Sanaa, a Saudi housewife in her 50s, said she believed giving maids a phone was a problem as they would waste their time on it, yet families are forced to allow the devices so that maids can reasonably communicate with others and keep in touch with their family members.

One Indonesian maid said she uses her cell phone and social media programs such as WhatsApp and Skype to communicate with her family during her free time, especially as these programs allow free calls.

She said her work is no way affected by her using a mobile phone.

“It is vital to let maids use mobile phones not only to talk to her friends and relatives but also for the purposes of her work. For example, if the maid went out with the kids, parents can call and follow up with the maid about their kids. It depends on the maid; if she utilizes the phone properly, her performance will not be affected,” said a Filipino maid in her 50s.

Abeer Al-Tamimi said the real danger of a maid having a mobile lies in the family’s security. “The maid could photograph family members and send the pictures out. She may also divulge family secrets to outsiders and exchange phone numbers with other maids,” she said.

Al-Tamimi said she believed that after exchanging numbers, a maid could have the chance to know unneeded information, such as ways to steal from the home, sorcery and the idea of how to escape.

“To avoid these possible negativities, housewives should impose strict control over the maids’ use of mobile phones,” she said.



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