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Saudi Arabia

Sponsors pay SR400,000 arrears to housemaids

Saudi sponsors in the capital last month paid SR400,000 in money owed to housemaids being held at the government’s detention centers, Arab News has learned.
Now that they have received their money, they can be sent home. They were handed over to the government after running away from their Saudi sponsors because of alleged financial and physical abuse.
Maids working in Saudi Arabia are mainly from Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Somalia.
Sri Lankan Consul General in Jeddah, Atham Bawa Uthuma Lebbe, told Arab News that once the maids are handed over to the detention centers, the mission’s responsibilities are over.
“The officials at the detention centers are kind enough to negotiate with the Saudi sponsors to get the maximum sums legally due to the poor housemaids.”
He said there has been a drop in the number of runaway maids arriving at the Jeddah mission recently, mainly because maids now fear they have to pay back the recruitment fees spent by their sponsors.
Previously the Jeddah mission dealt with more than 100 runaway maids a month, but this has now fallen to fewer than 10. Recently a labor court in Jeddah ordered that two runaway housemaids pay SR25,000 each for them to be deported to Colombo, their hometown.
Uthuma Lebbe said that a Saudi sponsor spends more than SR20,000 to get a maid from Colombo. “How can he recover the money if the maid runs away from the household in this manner?” This total includes SR5,000 paid to the maid, visa fees, agent fees and the airfare.
Last year, 15 Saudi sponsors filed cases against Sri Lankan housemaids who ran away from their homes in the Eastern Province.

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