UAE | General

Sponsor in a fix as maid runs away

Family left in the lurch after maid, hired through a recruitment firm, disappears

  • By Sharmila Dhal, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 March 24, 2011

Anjum Khan
  • Image Credit: © XPRESS / Ahmed Ramzan
  • Anjum Khan shows the documents of her housemaid who went missing the day her visa was stamped

Dubai: An Indian family living in The Gardens is crying foul after the maid they recently hired through a recruitment agency in Abu Dhabi went missing.

Anjum Khan, a sales executive with a private company in Dubai, said she had spent over Dh15,000 - including Dh7,000 as agency fees - to sponsor Baiq Muksin, a maid from Indonesia. "She came to us on January 18 this year, but went missing on March 3, the same day her visa got stamped."

Khan said the maid, who was hired to take care of her four-month-old daughter, disappeared when the family had gone out for some chores.

No guarantee

"When we informed police, we were asked to go to the Dubai General Department for Residency and Foreigners Affairs. Accordingly, we registered a case with them and submitted her passport," said Khan, adding that the maid had also left behind her original contract with the agency.

"We were concerned for her. But when we contacted the agency, we were told that they cannot do anything other than check if she had gone to the Indonesian Consulate," said Khan. Elham Hamgi from the agency said: "We can do something only if the maid gets in touch with us or the consulate. Our agreement clearly says there is no guarantee or replacement in the case of a runaway maid."

"It is mystifying that there are absolutely no laws protecting the sponsor in such a situation. If the maid ran away because she was being mistreated, she would have gone to her embassy/consulate or to the agent as the agency had advised her to do so. However, she is now free to find illegal employment while we're left to foot a bill of Dh15,000," said Khan.

"There's a Dh50,000 fine for hiring illegal maids, yet there's no process or information available to sponsors on what to do in a situation like ours," she added.

Khan said since she and her husband are both working, she has no choice now but to enrol her four-month-old baby in a nursery. "Over time, we have also discovered many things that have gone missing from our house - like money, clothes, undergarments, make-up, toiletries and perfumes," she claimed.

Comments (6)

  1. Added 00:12 March 25, 2011

    I am not shocked to read this report because we have gone through the same situation. We hired a Filipina and spent almost Dh10,000 on her visa and everything. Within three months, I caught her with a man below our building. The same week she ran away. She went to pick up the kids from bus stop -- my children use the school bus -- and never returned. The agency has given us the same answer, saying that we have to contact the immigration department and they'll help. However, to date, nothing has happened and it’s been three years now that she has disappeared.

    Shumail Ali, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 20:19 March 24, 2011

    We have been through a similar scenario. However, the worst thing is this that we are not even refunded the one year salary that we pay to the UAE Immigration department! People talk about rights here. However, in case of employment of housemaids, the expatriate employer has no rights whatsoever. It’s everyone’s knowledge that in families where both parents are working, a maid is more of a necessity than a luxury. If they are employed properly, they can organise themselves and plan their future better.

    Mustafa Shabbir, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 16:30 March 24, 2011

    The agencies operate only to make money. I hired a maid from The Philippines directly last week and though I knew the maid and she came through the a reference, I still had to pay an agency Dh6,000. The Philippine Consulate and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) told me that I have to process her papers through an agency and that we can't hire housemaids directly. Why are the governments feeding these agencies?

    Ignatius, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 14:40 March 24, 2011

    This is really unfortunate. I have been through this trauma twice in the last four years. The main reason for maids running away is the disparity in earnings. We can’t afford to pay more than Dh1,000 to Dh1,500 every month to a maid who’s hired legally. But, illegal maids make more than Dh1,800 a month and if she is daring enough to work in multiple houses in a day, she ends up making Dh3,500 plus every month. We request authorities to reduce the visa charges so that we can afford maids legally. On the other hand, the punishment for working/ staying illegally must be made more severe so that maids are discouraged to run away. This must be done in order to safeguard the country’s social security.

    Zafar Jafri, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 14:33 March 24, 2011

    I agree with Ms Anjum that sponsors are not protected in cases of runaway maids. We were also almost in the same position some time back. Less than a month after renewing her visa, we discovered that our sponsored maid was having illegal relation with a labourer at a nearby construction area. We had to lose the non-refundable deposit of Dh5,000 and all related expenses. When stories of maid-torture take up the front pages of newspapers and earn sympathy from all, nobody cares for sponsors like us. Due to this problem of sponsoring maids, I had to drop the idea of taking up a job.

    Yousufa, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 13:38 March 24, 2011

    This seems to have become the latest trend in Dubai -- someone is surely making money from this business. Maids come, sponsors pay in thousands and then maids run away. The sponsors are back to square one again, with no refunds whatsoever! But these runaway maids always find other jobs always! We had a maid from Sri Lanka. She ran away after we lent her money as she was crying that her three kids and husband would become homeless if she didn’t repay a loan in her home country. We gave her the money, had her visa and medical all sorted out, and she ran away! No protection whatsoever for sponsors in such cases. There is nothing that the government or responsible authorities did about it. And the maid is still in Dubai working and earning money. Totally unfair! We both work as well and have no other choice but to have another maid. It seems these people do not want to help themselves although we are trying to help them. Lying, stealing and deceiving have become part of their system. When my maid ran away, I discovered that loads of things that had gone missing from the house were hidden in her room. I know some maids are abused, but sponsors are too. The government needs to tackle this matter as soon as possible. This problem has been going on for too long now and it’s a shame on this wonderful nation.

    Anonymous, Dubai, United Arab Emirates