Saturday 28 March 2009 (02 Rabi` al-Thani 1430) 

      The Shoura Council and housemaids
      Local Press
      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 
top priorities.

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