03 July, 2008

'Slaves' freed from captivity in luxury hotel

That's a headline in The Times of London.

The story, from Brussels, Belgium begins:

At least 15 “slaves” have been freed from one of Europe's most stylish hotels, where they claimed that they were being kept captive to wait hand and foot on a royal heiress and four princesses.

The servants, all believed to be women, were allegedly held captive for eight months by the widow of an emir from the United Arab Emirates and her daughters. The family had hired the entire fourth floor of the exclusive Conrad Hotel in Brussels, according to reports in Belgium yesterday.


I look forward to reading all about it in tomorrow's UAE papers, with a clarification...an emir from the UAE?


The story in The Times is here.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

If only the Conrad was a sharia compliant hotel run by the muttawas, none of this would have occurred or seen the light of day.

Mwahahahah ;)

Anonymous said...

This sounds... odd, and weird. Maids are known of causing a fuss once they're outside of the country with their owners, in order to leave their household or to "plea" for safety.

This is no new news :/ I've heard so many times happening to civilians of the UAE.

Anonymous said...

Well, anon at 02:11, anywhere else in the world it is a big fuss when you take somebody's passport away...even in UAE but it is still a common practice. It violates basic human rights !

Nobody can be forced to remain in a house or a hotel room...or even be on call for 24 hours a day...

Anonymous said...

"...Maids are known of causing a fuss once they're outside of the country with their owners ..."

anon 02:11 you just proved the point ... only slaves have "owners"! It is a shame that they have to try to escape in a foreign country obviously they were not allowed to leave their "jobs" in the UAE ... which is the right of anyone.

Anonymous said...

so who is the "owner", i wonder.

Editor said...

Hilarious,
15 housemaids in a top 5* hotel in the Middle of Europe...
In my opinion they were very lucky that their employer generously paid for their trip and gave them the chance to see part of the world.
Unfortunately, those "slaves" must be sent somewhere in Al Wahba etc.., to learn how to appreciate ......
Phony efforts to attract publicity..

BuJassem said...

i really don't give a damn about all this negative publicity that seems to surround royalty here.. plus our royal family are called sheikhs not emirs or shiks..

honestly.. why don't they tighten their laws and make sure their police is doing its job before blaming our royals?

BuJassem said...

following up on the editor's excellent comment.. i suppose the slaves also had access to tv and room service..

so who needs a passport if u can have all of that, plus live in europe in the summer, eh?

Anonymous said...

Excellent comment Editor.

I mean how dare slaves spoil the name of our sheikhs and sheikhas, right? Don’t people know that our glorious leaders and their concubines are way above the law?

And what is all this talk about slavery when they get to see an all-expense paid trip to Europe – so what if they are on call 24 hours (or is it more hours for slaves?).

Ungrateful really, these slaves, aren’t they?

And to think, five of them were from Islamic countries – shame on you all.

Editor said...

As long as I am aware servants are hired trough employment agencies not against their will, but on the contrary according their personal applications.
Also the law in UAE is clear regarding the working contracts and the wage brackets for the different nationalities.
And literary is not possible to be on call 24/7 as the Madams have to sleep usually not less than 8 hours.
I think that the "slaves" in question were pretty lucky. Most probably they won't find better job opportunities in Europe.
And let's be reasonable here, 15 "slaves" to 5 Royals doesn't sound as much work.

Finally, I am not originating from Islamic country.

Anonymous said...

Well, a number of anons up there — clearly, you guys are not from the Emirates and therefore never had a maid as an Emirati. Explain to me this situation please:

A maid is well fed, doesn't do much more than ironing and basics cleaning in the house, earns 900 Derhams a month and shuts her lights out as soon as 8 pm.

What right does she has to flee, huh? What right does she have to end up working us a whore? Give them their passports, pfft. If they're rebelling against us without their passports, then what's going to happen WITH their passports? They won't last a day in a single household. She'd find herself a pimp that's willing to pay her triple what she's earning at some local's house.

A maid caused a fuss in the U.S. a while ago. Actually, maybe some two years ago. Anyway. So the house got "randomly" checked because the owner is a Saudi student, and that directly makes him an OMG BAD PERSON ALERT ALERT. The maid hardly spent 3 days with them back in KSA before flying with the whole family to the U.S.

They had an "interview" with her, and it turns out the the guy raped her. No, no... there is no need of medical examination as long as the words of a maid, who was promised with a "better" living in the U.Ss, as long as she was giving this man in for the authorities. And what is this?! She doesn't have her passport? Are you treating her like a salve? Then yes, of course he did rape her!

That was an extreme example. But, yeah, it tells you what happens once you're outside of a country with a stranger tagging along. I have tens of examples, all of them happened with me or around me, so don't you lecture us about how to give them their passports or freedom.

What is she going to do with her passport, anyhow? Other than to flee? Or wait, maybe she will... yeah, that thing they do with a passport — a passport is only used if you wanted to, you know, "pass" an airport. That's what they do with it, it doesn't feed them or pay their medical bills. Human rights? Last time I checked, a missing passport didn't mean you're starving to death or being raided every 3 hours.

Anonymous said...

Do not, I repeat, do not come up with the crap about employment agencies, contracts, wage brackets and nationalities. You and I both know all of this amounts to bullshit in this part of the world.

This also isn’t about demeaning an entire race or community. This is about a random incident involving slavery. And as much as you doubt the credibility of this story, I stand on the opposite side equally endorsing its reliability.

And let me also tell you, when you say that the slaves in question were pretty lucky and that they won’t find better job opportunities in Europe, this makes you as much as guilty along with that concubine and her entourage.

And finally Editor, I do know that you don’t originate from an Islamic country but I still don’t like the Hezbollah ;)

Ouch ;)

Editor said...

Yes, I remember a case in Boston US awhile ago; two Filipino servants demanded from their Saudi employer 1500 $ monthly salaries while in their working contracts from Saudi was written 200$.
But sizing the opportunity of being in the US they made a big fuss and had the press in tact only to embarrass their employers.

Anonymous said...

yeah.. the sheikhs should get their own lazy big booty emariti girls itself...

Editor said...

Conclusion: Don't travel with housemaid out of the Gulf, as you may be framed into slavery or human rights offender.

Anonymous said...

True, editor. I only wish the locals over here would realise that.

My friend's maid ran away while they were in London. She then called later to say that she's sorry, but she had to go.

She's been with them her entire life. 16 years. They didn't get it and neither did I, but it's never safe to trust a maid in a foreign country. Ever.

Editor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rosh said...

Hmmm interesting topic. I just wanna add, just like good maids and employers, there are the not so positive ones.

Don't know the entire story and frankly don't care. However, let's not assume all maids face abuse. Am saying so, only because I know what my folks were put thru by the last 2 maids they've had the past year. We had a maid for 27 yrs, who was part of our family. She moved back to her homeland a year ago - ever since it has been one ordeal after the other. I guess, good people are hard to come by these days.

IYM said...

So anyone who works 24/7 is called a 'slave' ?!

I didn't know then I was the 'slavest of the slaves' !!

Mind you, my 'slavery' is not at a 5-Star Hotel in Europe ! it's in a grave-size on-call room that I barely use.. you don't wanna know how the washroom looks either..

CG said...

Never take 2 maids away together, and never take the same maid away more than once. Keep their passports well hidden and don't send them out to the parks etc with the kids, alone. Lastly, always lead them to believe you are staying overseas longer than you are, that way they may wait until the final day to grab their passport....but that final day may come sooner than they thought....send them back a few days before yourself, with 5 mins warning. Just tell them their visa expired and you did not realise.....

Anonymous said...

Annon 4 July @ 22.20

An excellent post !!!

As a fellow UAE National I totally concur with your points.

Having a maid in the home has been an integral part of our lives for numerous years, others may ask why?

Its simple we do not get the same “perks” as SOME of the expatriates here

We pay for Private Education it is not part of a package
We pay for our own flight
We pay for our own homes
Our salaries are nothing in comparison to those and therefore it is not unusual for both parents to be working.

We treat the maid differently as we have the experience of dealing with them for may years, we know that if we allow them out alone that it will come back to bite us in one way or another. Its not a case of slavery but of protection for the maid as well as the person responsible for her.

The maid in our home is happier than she has ever been; she eats well she is not expected to cook her own food or even purchase it.

She travels with us, not just within the Gulf but also to Europe and the Far East.

She sleeps by 8, she does not iron.

Yes there are those that abuse the maids and they are the ones that allow us to be painted with the same brush.

If you don’t know how to handle a fast performance car don’t drive it, if you don’t know how to deal with a maid don’t employ one.

Anonymous said...

OMG its disgusting how many here think of maids as just another piece of property to use and control as you like ... we are talking about human beings!!! If they run away, then thats the risk you take. In most jobs, if the employee is satisfied they will not want to leave their jobs. If the employee breaks a contract then take it up legally, but you have no right to take the law into your own hands by stealing their passports or worse locking them up!

curious said...

I am curious, why is it so many locals employ maids? Are they lazy? Can they not take out their own trash and do the dishes themselves so that they have to hire someone to do these tasks for them? Or is it simply because doing the dishes, cleaning, cooking, looking after kids, pushing a trolley in a supermarket is beneath them somehow?

I was at a shop yesterday, a woman was trying on sandals and discarding pair after pair on the floor until literally there was no space to get to the sandals that were hanging because this lazy pig didn't put the shoes back when she picked out a pair and departed the area leaving a huge mess behind her.

B.D. said...

Maid = Servant = Slave

This sort of employment just does not belong in the 21st century. If one needs a cook, hire one by the hour, a cleaner, a nanny... hire and pay them by the hour. Don't expect a live in slave, even if you think you can afford one. Humans do not belong to other humans even if they are getting paid, fed or put up in luxury hotels in Europe. Any person who is expected by their employer to be on duty or on call 24/7 has the right at any time to say "take this job and shove it."

IYM said...

Nothing is wrong with having maids if you need them first of all and if you can afford it.

Abuse is unacceptable of course, whether it's abusing maids or abusing your employees or abusing your boss !

As for me, I'm still single.. yes I do my dishes; I take the trash out every day; I clean my bathrooms and I keep my place organized all the time.. but still there comes times when I'm overwhelmed with work and with tasks and so I wouldn't be able to be on top of my miss at home.. so, hiring a maid for few hours wouldn't harm.. I need it and I can afford it.. as simple as this..

And yes I'm local (UAE National).. and I get busy at work sometimes beyond anyone's imagination.. I work sometimes for 24-hours in a raw non-stop without a single hour of sleep so I make sure my patients are taken care of properly.. don't you think I deserve someone to take care of me sometimes ?!

" locals.. locals.. locals.. bla bla bla " .. just stop it for God's sake..

I'm still in Canada for my postgrad.. and BTW, Canadians hire nanies and paied-per-hour or paied-per-service maids as well.. guess why? because most of them are going back to having over-sized families ( if I many call it so).. 3 kids and more.. just like the case in UAE.. And they have day-care centers accepting kids at the age of 9-months, so that alleviates some of the burden at home.. we don't have that yet in UAE.. we have our moms (Alhamdulellah) helping us out.. Canadians also have paied paternity leaves for 3-months to help out with their newborns; we don't have this yet in UAE ! And maternity leave in Canada is up to one year..

OK.. enough for now.. time to take care of my kitchen ALONE..

IYM said...

b.d, I'm a doctor.. and yes I work for 24-hours frequently.. unfortunately I can't say to my employer 'shove it' ! Not that I'm complaining..no I love my job.. but you guys have to understand that they're certain jobs that are simply 'demanding'..

Doctors..nurses.. night-guards..military workers..etc, we're simply on stand-by all the time..

Sure I would need a 'cleaner' from time to time.. what's wrong with it ?

B.D. said...

Lym, thank you for your thoughtful response to my comment. I would like to elaborate a little further on my point. I don't disagree with the idea that people need help, especially in this day and age when so many have over-demanding jobs. The problem I have is with the concept of the "maid" which is just too close for comfort with the historically demeaning occupations of "servant" and "slave."

There are ways to have our needs met as busy professionals apart from employing other human beings in this capacity of servitude. I am not against having someone to cook, clean, etc. as per one's requirements and ability to pay, but this ought to be done in the form of an hourly wage and not on the basis of having a "live-in" domestic worker. Your role as a medical professional, for example, would be greatly demeaned if it meant your living in the home of a patient and being at their beck and call.

This is why in more modern societies we have to rely on day care centers, nursery homes for the elderly, etc. Although this may not be as ideal for the client as having someone in their home 24 hours to serve their needs, it is a more "civilized" approach to obtaining the services we need. Those employed in the nursing home, daycare center, etc. at the end of the day have their own life to return to, just as we all like to have. Even the most menial of workers--a janitor, a gas station attendant, etc.--is at the end of the day (in modern countries, that is) able to complete his shift and go off to his/her own life--even if they are relatively poor. A live-in maid or other live-in household domestic loses this critical aspect of being a free individual, which again I feel in a more modern, enlightened civilization, ought to be everyone's right.

Skeptic said...

I highly doubt those people in the hotel were doctors, nurses, military personnel or night guards...

Anonymous said...

What are you going about b.d.
Do you have any idea how many of your likes would love to have the money and opportunity to have such a lifestyle.

I've been to nursing homes and talked to people who live there, do you think that is the civilized way to live when you can live in your own house in the comfort of your bed, your sofa, and have someone care for you if paid?

When it comes to children, why get them out to places that you have no gaurantee of their cleanliness and get the little ones exposed to germs when they could be enjoying the stay at their home until they are ready to go to KG1. Why start their trip to "work" earlier than planned when you can delay it.

What about those "slaves", I was always against keeping the nannys passport with the employer until I started a family. I did the civilized thing and told her to keep it, and in the case she decides she wants to leave, she should simply tell me ahead of time. She agreed, three months later she dissappeared, where? to live in a group home in Satwa and work as part time maid here and there and as a prostitue at night, she was caught by police three months later.

I did it again with my next maid, she stayed for a year, I only had her to watch my baby girl when I am at work as I don't like anybody cooking for me or cleaning my room, she only used to iron the bed sheets which i could not be bothered to do. The rest was for me. She dissappeared a year after she started...where? to live with her "boyfriend" who she got to know while I was at work, how did find out, my sister saw her in Sharjah (I live in Dubai).

So now, I keep the passport, I tell her if she decides she wants to quit to let me know, and I will send her back to her country within two months (enough time to find areplacement)..

There are no law to protect those who employ these nannys.

b.d we don't want to change our way of life to the hectic ones you live.

Go find your lala land somewhere else..every country has it rules.

Anonymous said...

Hey,"Anonymous on 05 July, 2008 23:45"
you really scare me. With people like you you will never be inserted in the modern world. Let's face it having goads of money doesn't necessarily make you a decent person and education only teaches you about your profession. Humility is learnt from your parents and the society you live in. You have shown the best of intentions can fall short when your horizons are limited, even if you travel. We are in the 21st century. You are not. If you are the most "forward-tinking" of your compatriates that is really scary. Your country will be nothing but a joke, no matter how much money you throw around. There are basic human rules of morality and decency towards fellow human beings - it doesn't seems you've learnt that lesson yet. Sad, very sad.

rosh said...

^^anon 02:08: before you label anon 23:45, you must know, what she said is often very true these days. Sadly, there are some wolves disguised as maids, crying wolf!

I say so, just given what my folks were put thru the past year. All this, after we had a lovely lady as our maid for about 27 yrs, someone who still remain and shall always be part of our family.

So please don't be quite fast to judge that one party is always at fault.

Editor said...

By the way, keeping the passports of employees is illegal in UAE.
They can complain to the Labor Court and you will get a court order (trough the police)to submit the passports to the authorities.
I guess, if the maids don't know their rights, you may go away with it, but now a days every one knows it all........

Anonymous said...

Editor @ 9.22am

Little unsure of your last post as "domesic workers" are not covered under the UAE labor law ?

IYM said...

b.d, thanks for your clarification on the matter.. I couldn't agree any more..

As for me personally I go by the hour; pay per service kinda thing.. I don't like the idea of strangers sleeping at my place.. I just like to keep my privacy as it is, whether single or married..

And yes I nailed my sister big time because she didn't like the idea of her 'maid' having a boyfriend ! I told her she's simply a human being who has the right to live and love as you do.. she is NOT your slave and she will never be.. my sister didn't object to what I was saying, however, her main concern was that the maid's boyfriend was spending the night at our place without us knowing about it.. it was then getting unsafe for the kids and unsafe for us as well ! That's when she ended her contract..

If you look into the crime records in UAE, you'll be shocked how many of them are caused by those 'innocent' maids ! unbelievable..

Of course I cannot generalize bad attitudes or habits to every single maid ( cleaner/cook.. name it).. but with the statistics that I know; and with the real-life stories that I heard or got exposed to; I will definitely think twice before considering having one residing and living with me at home.. it's just not going to happen..

CG said...

FFS. I have servants. Thats what they call themselves, but guess what? They are free to leave at anytime they like, bd. All they have to do is ask and I shall arrange their trip and cancel their visa and drop them off at the airport, no worries. But, surprise! They don't want that. They wanna screw you up and do a runner.....and if they do it in Europe then we are forever screwed as it is so hard to obtain a visa for domestic staff if you have had one runaway in the past.

I have no idea what kind of life/household you have bd, but I can tell you have no idea of mine either. Yes we need domestic help, not 24/7, but live in, for sure. All were interviewed before arriving here and all of them begged for the job, even when I over-emphasised the harshness (like no boyfriends, no disco)....but were ectsatic at the thought of 3 free meals and a bedroom with airconditioning.

Get with it, they need us more than we need them. And, if the white expats did not offer the runaways illegal jobs then perhaps we would not have these worries.

Anonymous said...

bd, your profile picture just says it all, you are uptight tie wearing serious person, how can you ever see the others point of view.

Maybe if you try to relax and try to smile and unbottun your shirt a little and think,people are different we will be able to communicate better.

Don't leave the UAE, just accept things as it is when it isn't your house hold.

Anonymous said...

"...they need us more than we need them..."

ha ha ha. Who interviewed whom? You needed them so you did. did'nt you?

B.D. said...

I do wear a tie always (when working) but not uptight--trust me. I recognize there are different sides to this argument with valid points on both sides. I would still argue my case by saying that the point is not the need of this or that family or individual to have someone to help them with life's chores. I don't question this need. My basic argument is that this form of labor should not be employed by mordern countries in the 21st century. Fortunately we have household equipment of various kinds to make chores easier. Beyond that, it is possible to employ people in a manner that leaves them still free to lead their lives independently.

I wouldn't go to India, for example, and argue against this form of labor practice because it can be argued that such practice does afford some improvement in quality of life for the impoverished. But in a modern society like the UAE's, we need to move beyond this form of labor.

I don't mean to suggest simplisticly that those who employ maids are bad and maids themselves are all good. But those in this country with the resources to employ maids should look to alternative, more humane ways to have their needs met.

CG said...

bd
aaaaaah humane? Now we are going somewhere.
This is where we differ. I believe that people should abide by their contracts. I feed them, allow them ample rest, banish them to their rooms if they are sick (after taking them to a gp, of course), pay them on time and buy them anything they require to be comfortable. In return I expect them to do as they have agreed, and that is to do the work assigned to them and not to run away and join the asylum queue in Croydon just because I spent a fortune taking them overseas.
One servant (oops, sorry, housemaid) asked if she was going to Europe this summer like last year.....eeeer, hello, me thinks something is cooking there. Of course she is not going, dumbo.

Anonymous said...

CG, besides writing in your opinions take sometime to read and comprehend the opinions of others as well. All I want you to do is read what Anon @ 05 July, 2008 16:54 writes in. you have a reply to your opinion already. If you don't wanna risk it then you don't simply import the services of a domestic help. Either try and do your work yourself or get help from the people of your own country. No risk. no problem.

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