Black market for maids and drivers thriving

Black market for maids and drivers thriving
Updated 18 February 2015

Black market for maids and drivers thriving

Black market for maids and drivers thriving

There is a thriving black market for housemaids and drivers in the Kingdom, which should be blamed on both illegal expatriates and Saudi citizens, say experts.
Economist Fadl Al-Buainain said there has been a “boom” in the market for domestic workers but the demand is not distributed evenly across the country. He said there are many Saudi sponsors who obtain large numbers of visas for domestic workers and then send them out to work for other people, simply to make money.
“They get SR4,000 for each domestic worker they hire out to others, while the worker gets only SR700 or even less. These earnings are illegal according to Islamic and international laws,” he said. This is one of the reasons that some workers run away from houses where they are working, he said.
He said some domestic workers flee from their sponsors because they are promised higher wages by intermediaries. “However such jobs do not offer them any stability because they have to adapt to a different house and environment every month.”
“A greater danger for runaway maids is that they could be forced to commit immoral acts as part of their work or to earn more money. These women then find themselves trapped without anyone to rescue them,” Al-Buainain said.
He said that some domestic drivers may find themselves in great financial difficulty because they often have debts of up to SR20,000 owed to recruiters. If their sponsors do not have jobs for them, they are sent out to look for work. Under these conditions, they could become desperate and turn to crime, he said.
Saleh Al-Dobel, assistant professor of criminology at King Fahd Security College, said the government cannot solve these issues without the help of expatriates and citizens.
“In most other countries illegal workers do not find work because no family is willing to employ a man or woman who has run away from his or her legal employer.” He said runaway maids could get involved in immoral or anti-social activities.
He said Saudi families are also to blame for the growing black market. “Our families welcome these runaway maids, and offer them higher wages.”
If citizens do not cooperate then this problem would not be solved, even if fines are raised to SR100,000, he said.
He said Saudi families are also taking huge risks by hiring these workers because they could be criminals. “So we are basically creating the black market despite efforts of the government to penalize workers and citizens.”
He said it is the duty of every citizen to report runaway workers. Domestic workers should also “think twice” before running away from their sponsors because they could face being victimized without legal protection. In addition, the media should play its role in highlighting these issues, he said.