Manama: A large number of housemaids and domestic drivers run away from their employers during Ramadan due to tremendous work pressure, an interior ministry official has said.

According to Colonel Nasser Mohamad A Sayed, head of the Follow-up and Research Department of the ministry, domestic workers, including helpers and drivers, who ran away said that they had to deal with huge pressure during the holy month and eventually left their employers.

The department is responsible for holding and housing runaway workers until they are repatriated home.

"We have found during investigations with housemaids and drivers who escaped from their sponsors, that maltreatment, domestic violence, overwork in Ramadan and no day-off in the week are some of the major woes that prompt household hands to escape," Al Sayed told Qatari media.

An Indonesian helper told the department that she worked at the house of her sponsor from 6am to 12pm and that the working hours were extended until 2 am.

"I could not simply stay at the house of my sponsor during this Ramadan because I was not able to sleep for more than two hours in Ramadan last year," a Filipina maid who turned herself in to the department seeking repatriation after escaping her sponsor.

The department plans to set up three more service centers to listen to the complaints of sponsors and domestic servants, the official said, quoted by Qatari daily The Peninsula.

According to Mohammad Abdul Alim Ebrahim, a psychiatrist who heads a social rehabilitation centre, domestic helpers run away throughout the year, but the incidents increase as Ramadan approaches.

Households host iftar (breaking of the fast) and dinner parties for relatives and friends in Ramadan so domestic helpers run away to avoid excessive work, he said. However, some helpers escape their employers because of domestic violence or for not receiving their financial dues on time.

Some maids who are Muslims themselves fast during the holy month, so additional work pressure breaks them psychologically, as well as physically which forces them to escape their employers.

Some approach the interior ministry to be sent home and are kept at the detention centre, while others just escape looking for work elsewhere, the daily said.