I wrote a bit about live-in domestic help back in April of last year. (The Help) I came across this article about the same topic (thanks to Andy in Oman) and wanted to share it. The author very candidly describes the sad situation of which many of us are already aware, but it is unique in that it is written from the perspective of an Omani and not a westerner.
In the article, the author describes the story of some of her neighbors (“lazy young men” to be exact) who mistreat their maid. It reminded me of some boys who live down the street from me. I don’t know much about them except that they have several very expensive cars that are unfailingly sparkling because they are constantly being washed by domestic helpers. I’ve never seen them mistreat their housemaids, but I was amazed one day when I saw one of the young men pull up to the house. By the time he had closed the door to his car, one of his maids was already out the front door of the house, walking with brisk determination. As the young man entered the house carrying nothing but his cell phone, the maid opened the car door to remove dry cleaning and carry it inside (certainly not a heavy load, maybe 5 dishdashas). I wondered how this event transpired. Did the man driving the car actually call ahead to let them know he was about to arrive? Doesn’t that require about as much effort as opening the back door and taking in the cleaning himself? Or was the maid on stand-by, waiting for his arrival? This behavior wasn’t abusive, but wow! The diva factor never fails to surprise me.
Sometimes I see maids at the grocery store with their employer and I can’t help but wonder if they are one of the ones who are being mistreated. Are they longing for someone to save them? I try to look in their eyes but am rarely met with a reciprocal acknowledgment. As the author of the article mentioned, there are undoubtedly many situations where housemaids are treated respectfully and fairly. But there are definitely undercurrents of palpable tension between some housemaids and their employers. That tension becomes part of your daily experience while living in Dubai.