Runaway Lankan maids worry Labor Ministry

Updated 27 June 2015
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Runaway Lankan maids worry Labor Ministry

RIYADH: Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani has asked the Sri Lankan government to stop maids running away from their Saudi sponsors soon after their arrival in the Kingdom.

Al-Haqbani told Sri Lankan Ambassador Mohamed Hussein Mohamed that several maids have run away after spending barely three months in the country. This was costing each affected Saudi sponsor SR25,000, he said.
The minister said that while this was only a small fraction of the Sri Lankan maids in the Kingdom, the situation had to be nipped in the bud. There are about 400,000 Lankan housemaids in the Kingdom.
The minister also complained that some maids were arriving pregnant in the Kingdom with false medical reports. In addition, he asked the Sri Lankan government to reduce the recruitment costs for housemaids.
Responding to the minister’s concerns, the Sri Lankan envoy said that the Association of Licensed Foreign Agencies has already decided to reduce the recruitment charges to SR12,000, which would be discussed at the next bilateral meeting in Colombo after Ramadan.
Mohamed said that maids obtain medical certificates six months ahead of their travel dates and become pregnant during the waiting period in Sri Lanka. He promised that arrangements would be made to deal with this situation.
To prevent maids from running away, he said that the Sri Lankan government has organized an intensive orientation program for those seeking work in Saudi Arabia. “This will put a stop to this problem because it prepares housemaids mentally to work in the Saudi environment, which is alien to them.”
According to a pact between the Kingdom and Sri Lanka, the parties have agreed to review the labor agreement once every six months. The next meeting would be in Colombo in July, he said.
The accord, which protects employers and employees, allows workers to keep possession of their passports, and have salaries paid into their bank accounts. “Under the pact, domestic workers can be assured of a safer, more decent and problem-free working environment,” Mohamed said.
The labor agreement covers 12 categories of domestic workers including housemaids, drivers, cleaners, and waiters employed by individuals. It also stipulates that contracts should be in a language understood by the worker.
Ahmed Al-Fehaid, undersecretary for international affairs, was also present during the discussions.


4 things you didn’t know about Saudi women’s rights

Updated 26 April 2018
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4 things you didn’t know about Saudi women’s rights

  • Since the launch of Saudi Vision 2030, the Saudi Justice ministry has addressed all flaws in the system that prevented women from living their lives securely and free from unnecessary hassles
  • No marriage agreement is accepted unless a woman provides a written approval, even if her guardian is her father

JEDDAH: Despite the great steps taken by the Saudi Ministry of Justice to give women a freer and more secure life, many Saudi women still do not have enough knowledge of their rights. 

Therefore, the ministry has started a campaign in cities all over the Kingdom to spread awareness among women of their legal rights. A female-only staff runs public exhibitions to enlighten them about how they are protected in different areas so they can lead their lives in a better way.

“We are using every possible channel to communicate with women to enlighten them about their rights, support them in all aspects to assure their ability to enjoy a secure rightful life,” said Majed Alkhamis, head of media and communication at the Ministry of Justice.

Since the launch of Saudi Vision 2030, the ministry has addressed all flaws in the system that prevented women from living their lives securely and free from unnecessary hassles. Despite all the obstacles, the ministry has succeeded in several areas.

A wife’s rights

The system not only grants the woman the right to sue her husband or ex-husband for alimony or acknowledgment of paternity, but it also allows any women legally living on Saudi soil, regardless of her citizenship or religion, to prosecute her current or former husband even if he is outside Saudi Arabia at the time of the lawsuit. Moreover, the new systems now support divorced women to a whole new level. For example, the system gives priority to a woman’s alimony over her husband’s personal debts.

Marriage agreements

No marriage agreement is accepted unless a woman provides a written approval, even if her guardian is her father. This arrangement grants a woman the freedom to accept a marriage proposal without any influence or coercion. In addition, if a woman is not happy with her marriage, she is free to leave the house of marriage and walk out of the agreement with no law to force her to come back. If she chooses to abandon the marriage her right to alimony will be dropped, but she is still entitled to custody of the children.

No delays

The Ministry of Justice has designed a full female service within its courthouses. 

These services include advisory people who provide free consultations on everything. In addition, these departments support women at all stages up until the execution of any court order to avoid delays and procrastination.

Speedy justice

The law emphasizes the speedy execution of justice in women-related cases.