Trade in Illegal Maids Flourishes

Many Saudi families have resorted to hiring illegal housemaids, since the legal recruitment of domestic workers has become more challenging. Some expat women who have entered the Kingdom illegally are offering their services to families who need them urgently, creating a flourishing black market for this kind of services.

Saudi families have been struggling to hire domestic help following a ban by Asian and African countries on sending housemaids to work in the Kingdom. Ethiopia and Kenya are among the countries which recently banned their citizens from working in Saudi Arabia, canceling visas for housemaids in the Kingdom and permanently stopping any manpower export to the Kingdom.

Other countries also refused to send domestic workers to Saudi Arabia, following reports of crimes and accidents last year. These conditions have contributed to an underground trade in housemaids who have entered the Kingdom illegally.

“There are several reasons for the flourishing illegal housemaid trade in the Kingdom. The first reason is the urgent need of Saudi families for housemaids. Secondly, recruitment offices have raised prices by 40 percent,” Khaleel Shake, an economist familiar with the issue, told Arab News.

“Some African and Asian countries have stopped sending domestic workers to the Kingdom, creating a demand-supply imbalance in the local market,” Shake said.

Many of these illegal women live in hard circumstances in the Kingdom, since most of them are uneducated, with barely enough money to survive. Therefore, they take advantage of the housemaid crisis, despite the risk of being arrested for working and staying in the country illegally.

Some citizens said they were forced to hire illegal housemaids as they did not see an alternative. “I hired illegal expat women to work as housemaids for two months since I couldn’t afford a recruitment office. I don’t think there are any other alternatives, except to hire illegal housemaids, which are creating a temporary solution due to their low prices,” Abu Ahmed, a Saudi citizen, explained.

Meanwhile, highway patrol foiled an attempt to smuggle illegal Somali and Indonesian women from Taif and Makkah region to different cities, with Saudis working as brokers, according to a local media.

Highway patrol has captured over 259,296 illegal infiltrators, mostly from the southern border. At the same time, the border guards succeeded in arresting 4,343 smugglers, 70 percent of whom are Yemenis who were trying to infiltrate into Saudi borders, according to 2013 statistics of the Directorate General of the Border Guards.

(Source: Jeddah: Ibrahim Naffee | Arab News Staff)

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