There have been a number of recent cases of heinous crimes committed by domestic helps in Gulf states. In the past week alone, cases in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have caused uproar. In Kuwait, a maid struck a bride-to-be with a cleaver in a planned murder. In Saudi Arabia, a maid slit the throat of a six-year-old girl when her parents and siblings were out. Her father later tweeted that he had imagined seeing her as a bride, but had to instead carry her to her grave. In both cases, the domestic helps cited revenge as their motivations. They claimed to have been abused by their employers and decided to exact revenge on them in return.
As deplorable as the crimes may have been, they beg the question: Would they have taken place had the maids been treated in a way that was acceptable to them? It is difficult to imagine the state of desperation they must have reached where the only outlet for their frustrations came in the form of gruesome crimes. In the case of the bride-killer, the murder was planned a month in advance, an indicator of a deep desire for revenge. Unfortunately, stories of abuse of maids are all too common in the region. These women, who often leave their poverty-stricken families to make a living, rarely have a channel to express themselves. Such incidents serve as a reminder that we, as a society, need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and ask how we can allow cases of abuse to happen. Perhaps more pragmatically, they also serve as a reminder that it is in our interest that we treat well those we leave our children with.