Domestic helpers on display sparks controversy in Saudi Arabia

Domestic helpers on display sparks controversy in Saudi Arabia

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Recruitment company faulted for not respecting dignity and privacy of the helpers
Manama: A recruitment company has waded into controversy and will face tough action after it displayed three of its domestic helper staff at a mall in the Eastern Province city of Dhahran.The company made the three women stand next to their pavilion it set up inside the mall for promotional purposes on Saturday.
However, several Saudis reported the show as a humiliation to the domestic workers and condemned it as a form of trafficking in persons. Saudi officials criticised the action by the company.
“We are investigating the matter, and if the facts support the complaints, we will apply the code of punishment against the company,” Khalid Abul Khail, the spokesperson for the labour and social development ministry, said. “The display of domestic helpers at a shopping mall is totally rejected and there will be accountability,” he said, quoted by Saudi daily Al Riyadh on Monday.
A spokesperson for the human rights commission said that a seven-member committee was looking into the transgressions by the recruitment company.
“We have held several events to promote awareness about the illegal trafficking in people and about the rights of domestic helpers.”
The committee includes representatives from the labour ministry, the interior ministry, the foreign ministry, the culture and information ministry, the justice ministry, the investigation and prosecution bureau and the commission for human rights.
A source told the daily that the company was duly licenced to operate in the recruitment sector, but added that its promotion campaign last weekend was “totally wrong for it violated the rights of the helpers.”
“The criteria to uphold and protect the dignity and privacy of the helpers were not respected,” the source said.
Activists reacting to the report about the campaign called for holding both the company and the mall that allowed the promotion accountable and to apply the regulations regarding trafficking in people.
“The company abused its power over the helpless employees and resorted to an action akin to modern slavery,” Abdul Rahman Bin Ruwaita, an activist, said.
Such actions could result in 15 years in jail and a one million Saudi riyals fine, he added. – Gulf News via Migration Forum in Asia

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