As majority of families in the UAE depend on househelps to run their daily chores, reports related to them have also become a common feature.
If news of an absconding maid makes headlines one day, then torture case follows the next. Similarly, there are cases of long-serving househelps who have being honoured for their exemplary services.
Families hiring househelp are urged to treat them decently, especially those recruited from abroad as they will go through a period of homesickness, according to a top official who stressed that cases of maids absconding are few and far between.
Speaking on 'Al Hayat Wa Nas' programme on Noor Dubai radio, Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director, Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), said the department has undertaken a campaign to educate housemaids.
Booklets comprising detailed guidelines of the rights and benefits housemaids are entitled to are being distributed at airports. The brochures also contain helpline numbers and contact details of relevant departments that domestic helps can refer to when in need.
The department in co-operation with the Ministry of Labour and CID section of Dubai Police will organise regular programmes and campaigns to control absconding cases. Last week about 25 absconding housemaids maids were referred to public prosecution.
However, one should not generalise the situation, he said and added that there are househelps who are sincere and worked for households for long periods. The department recently honoured one such person who worked for an Emirati family for more than 25 years, he said.
When a listener wanted to know how sponsors are protected when housemaids abscond, Al Marri said each case is dealt with very reasonably and that both parties are entitled to their rights by law. Another listener suggested the fine be raised to more than Dh50,000 - the current amount - and that home countries of absconding maids must be made accountable for paying the fines. He also suggested taxi drivers be instructed to hand over fleeing maids to nearby police stations.