Saturday 28 March 2009 (02 Rabi` al-Thani 1430)
The Shoura Council and housemaids
THE new Shoura Council began its first session by discussing the 23
articles of a draft bill governing the duties of housemaids. It spent a lot of
time deliberating Article 8, which says the housemaid should not be made to
work from 10 in the evening to 5 in the morning.
It also spent a long time discussing Article 5, which stipulates that the
housemaid should be put through a probationary period of 90 days, and Article
7, which reads: "The housemaid should not be asked to do any job that was not
originally agreed upon in the work contract." The honorable members of the
council discussed at length the affairs of housemaids but made no mention of
other household servants who include drivers, baby sitters, cooks and others.
If the council discussed each and every servant's job, it might take
months or years to complete the task. What about workers in private companies
and establishments? Do they only concern the labor offices and the Ministry of
Labor? Why did the council begin its sessions with this topic? I do not
belittle the subject nor do I say it is unimportant. No doubt it is an
important issue since we have been recruiting housemaids for 40 years and have
only now begun to think of making regulations related to them.
Hectic discussions took place in the council about how long the housemaid
should work. Have we no other important issues to discuss save only this? Why
do not the honorable members discuss the pesticides that have killed a number
of people in Jeddah?
Why do not they discuss our educational system that has produced large
numbers of unemployed and unemployable graduates? Why do not they discuss the
rights of teachers and schools that have turned into houses and kitchens? Why
do not they discuss the situation in hospitals and the housing crisis? Why do
not they discuss the problems of farmers since the cultivation of wheat was
halted? What about unemployment among women?
We have many important issues to discuss, the least of which is the
affairs of housemaids.
Our beloved country, which has no scarcity of problems, expects much of
the council members who took an oath before Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
King Abdullah to discuss thoroughly all issues of concern to the nation and its
citizens. The honorable members of the council are the cream of our country.
They should shoulder their responsibility before Allah. Amid the current global
financial crisis, the issue of housemaids should not definitely be among our