Fears over Ebola and concerns about potential human rights abuses have been making it harder for some Qatar residents to hire domestic help.
A number of applications to immigration for housemaid visas have been rejected in recent weeks, particularly for women from African countries, some residents have said.
Although no official reason has been given, one recruitment agent told Doha News that visas particularly for Kenyan nationals are currently being blocked due to concerns over the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
While outbreaks of the virus have so far centered on West Africa, Qatar has upped its vigilance and anyone entering the nation from affected countries is subject to medical screening and “intense surveillance,” the Supreme Council of Health has said.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia has temporarily stopped female citizens from working as domestic helpers in Qatar and most other GCC nations over human rights concerns.
An official from the Ethiopian Embassy in Qatar confirmed to Doha News that the ban, which also affects laborers, has been in effect for several months.
He said the recruitment freeze is in place while the country’s government passes new legislation to protect its workers. Provisions will include a minimum salary and set working hours, in a bid to reduce incidences of “people trafficking.”
The effects of these measures, coupled with the ongoing unofficial ban on visas for domestic workers from the Philippines, has made it harder for some families to juggle taking care of their children with work commitments.
As there are no official breakfast clubs and after-school clubs in Qatar for children to attend, such families rely heavily on nannies and maids for wraparound childcare, before and after school hours and during school holidays.
One mother of two children who works as a lawyer told Doha News that she recently applied for a visa for a new maid after her previous help left Qatar, but her application was declined.
“This is a huge issue, especially when so many expats are moving over here or returning after the end of summer. If I can’t get a new housemaid, I don’t know what I will do. There is no real infrastructure in Qatar for working families.”
Another working mother recently applied for a visa to sponsor a Kenyan housemaid/nanny, but was also rejected.
Her recruitment agent, who works in Doha for a Kenya-based firm, told Doha News that several of her clients had recently also faced disappointment. The agent, who asked not to be named, said:
“This has been going on for about a week now. In that time, six clients have all told me that their visas were rejected.
“We believe it is due to concerns about Ebola.”
She added that a potential visa ban could have a significant impact on the migrant Kenyan workforce, as around 3,000 Kenyans were due to move to Qatar for work in the coming months, and up to 12,000 of these expats are expected to migrate in the next year.
The Kenyan Embassy has not yet responded to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, recruitment agents have told local media that there is currently a ban on recruiting domestic workers from some African countries.
However, officials at the South African and Ethiopian embassies in Qatar told Doha News they had not experienced any problems recently related to Ebola concerns.
Qatar’s booming economy and population explosion have led to a surge in demand for domestic help, but potential employers should know that the rules are complex and ever-changing.
Qatar grants approval to certain countries to send workers as domestic staff. Traditionally this has included the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Nepal.
Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam more recently joined the ranks, along with the first European countries of Bosnia and Macedonia, the Ministry of Interior announced last year.
However, this does not mean that visas are always available for nationals from these countries, as human rights issues have led some countries to impose their own restrictions on their nationals from working in Qatar.
When Ethiopia agreed to send domestic workers to Qatar last year, its Minister of State for Labor and Social Affairs told the Peninsula that it was on the condition that its authorities would receive monthly reports about salary payments and work timings.
But it is not clear if this has happened, which may explain why the country has banned its women from working in Qatar, as well as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
However, the Ethiopian embassy official who spoke to Doha News said that officials were working closely with the Qatari government on the issue, and have had a “very positive response.”
A resolution on the issue was expected in the coming months, he added.
The issue of regulated salary levels and working conditions for domestic workers – including hours per day, days off each week and holiday entitlement – is a contentious one.
There has been an unofficial ban on new visas for Filipina housemaids for non-Qatari sponsors for nearly two years, following a diplomatic tussle between the Philippines and Qatari governments about a minimum wage requirement of $400 (QR 1,500) per month.
Meanwhile, at the beginning of last year, Indonesia temporarily suspended recruitment of its domestic workers to Qatar.
An embassy official said they were overwhelmed by an increasing number of maids fleeing their employers to seek shelter at the embassy.
Such women complained of long working hours, lack of days off, low salary or non-payment of salary, the official said.
Qatar has been talking about passing a law to shore up domestic workers’ rights for more than a year. But progress has been slow, as employers push back against requests from governments for better treatment.
A GCC-wide unified contract that would set minimum conditions of employment for domestic workers has been through several drafts, with the latest due to be discussed by the GCC Council of Ministries of Labor this November.
What happened to the idea of hiring East European women to work as housmaids? I never hear anyone talk about that now….
Too pretty. I will not let them into my house in case my wife is tempted.
Being pretty is one thing and the ridiculous little salaries would just not make them even think of stepping out of their countries
Yeah, Romanians and Bulgarians can now go to the UK. Why would they take Qatar, whatever the salary, over that?
The end of the world is nigh. Qataris might actually have to raise their own children. Pity the poor children.
I pity your home country and your parents for raising such an ignorant ditz. People like you are the reason I am pro-abortion.
That’s a pretty strong statement hiding behind your key board you a$$#ole. But then again the truth does hurt about your country. the key there is my parents did raise me. Not the nanny.
I love how low class trash constantly refer to Qatar’s failures to enforce and respect laws,yet are the first one prepared to suggest law breaking activity if things don’t go their way. What exactly would your dumb a** do if I said it to your face? Give me a verbal beat down? It’s not like you or anyone you know can do anything to me. Take that tough talk elsewhere you clown, you’re not intimidating anyone.
The only truth is that you are low class trash who didn’t amount to sh*t back home so you had to come here , and the other truth is that your parents didn’t do a very good job of raising you either. Apparently those responsible for your education have also let you down, as you enjoy expressing your dumb a$$ opinions as if they are facts, without once providing any evidence for them.
You obviously know nothing about me and no I’ve been so good at my job that I was recruited to come here. Now I’m just sucking as much money out as I can before leaving this place.
I see the evidence of lack of parenting as we all see the nanny raising children every day.
Call me whatever you want. I’m used to people like you hiding behind the monitor, making weird comments while waiting for the nanny to come change your diaper.
And what law breaking activity did I ever condone? Meanwhile Qatar continues to fail in enforcing even the most basic laws of the land.
Jealousy is a terrible sin to commit.
Jealous of what? The fact that you had no opportunities to make real money in the developed world that you decided to relocate to a place where you acknowledge laws aren’t enforced and you don’t have much rights?
You keep “sucking” the money out, you should do that seeing you already sold your soul for a little money,and while your at it, you may want to consider other forms of “sucking” where you are rewarded with money too, it’s not like you value your dignity and freedom anyway, so you may as well do that too and make more money.
I had plenty of opps but this one paid a lot more and unfortunately due to my ditziness I didn’t research more or I would’ve had 2nd thoughts. Until the day I go though I’m taking as much as possible with me.
Yes I came here for money, just like 2 million other people here. We do your everything. Actually we came for the beautiful scenery and hospitality. LOL. You want respect, no, demand respect, but are under the illusion that money makes you somehow superior. It does NOT. you should take a cue from the Egyptians who are a beautiful society but most have very little.
Why the homophobic slander? Do you have daddy issues since the maid raised you? Maybe you look a little too east asian maybe? oops. Or did she have a snot and a wiggly tail? Or is it the first cousin thing? Scientific studies show physical and mental under development employing that practice. But hey we got money.
Funny how you disrespect my parents and how they raised me when you started the spewing of personal attacks. Typical of you guys. You want to attack I guess bring it on. We can do this all night until they shut us down I guess. LOL
I am not surprised at all, it is obvious you are not familiar with research, how it is conducted and why it can distinguish those making sound arguments from the clowns with strong opinions.
There was no homophobic slander, you are just a dumb a$$ who also struggles with comprehension,and if I were I you I would be seriously embarrassed if English was my first language, because you even write like a dumb a$$ aside from the comprehensions issues you have.
It is typical of low class trash such as yourself to feel superior to anyone who isn’t of your race, yet the irony is the only way you clowns can generate any money in the developed world is from viewers watching you on Jeremy Kyle or Jerry Springer. Go do what you do best, spread STDs, drive drunk, sleep with your step parents and molest your partner’s children.
“There was no homophobic slander, you are just a dumb a$$ who also struggles with comprehension,and if I were I you I would be seriously embarrassed if English was my first language, because you even write like a dumb a$$ aside from the comprehensions issues you have.” Read that sentence. Correct English? LOL At least proof read b4 slamming someone for bad english.
I don’t feel superior to anyone…, well maybe now. Let’s see…I don’t watch JS and have no idea who JK is. I’d say there’s plenty of STDs here. You don’t need booze to kill people with cars here. Who sleeps with their step parents? And plenty of molesting going on here and the rest of the AW. Must be strange knowing your mom is also YOUR first cousin too. Yikes. My bets on the snot and wiggly tail though.
Keep it up and I will offer your mother a few beers to be my drivers concubine. Actually, that would only make you jealous of your mother getting free drinks…lol
Since my mother’s deceased lets leave her out of this.
Just ignore him.
Here is a thought, do what we do, we actually raise our own children and do our own housework and cooking. Give it a go, you might actually like your children and enjoy your own food creations.
Do you feel special for doing what millions of other families are doing? The fact that some parents may fail to fulfill their parental role does not make you “great” for doing what is expected of a parent.
So I guess most Qataris fail what is expected of them?
No, it just means your parents have raised an ignorant useless ditz, who is incapable of substantiating their claims with any proper evidence.
Meanwhile what did you do today? Park in a roundabout and chat with your friends?
No, I got blind drunk with my friends at the pub, had fun with some random whose name I can’t remember in the loo, didn’t use protection so she might get pregnant and one day deliver a kid who will grow up to be an ignorant useless ditz., but it’s ok, I am sure the kid will find a good job in Doha where they can “suck the money out”.
Hope she was at least pretty.
I sense Saleem and Guest are the same person…hmm a bit dishonest posting under 2 names to push you own point!
No, I got blind drunk at the pub with some friends, had some fun in the loo with a random whose name I can’t remember, didn’t use protection so she might get pregnant and one day deliver a kid who will grow up to be an ignorant ditz. It’s ok though, I am sure the kid will find a good paying job in Doha to “suck the money out”.
So why dont the locals do it then. Of course I feel special, every parent who raises their own child feels special, so special but not unique…sub contracting it out doesn’t make you feel special.
If you believe that hiring a “nanny” or a “housekeeper” is wrong in itself, then know that the concept did not originate in Qatar, and that a lot of wealthy families in the West also use their services. A lot of those families also have children who grow up to be successful well rounded people, I know quite a few personally because I went to school with them. So are you suggesting that their parents aren’t as good at raising their kids as you are?
I know the west, but its not as prevelant anymore and they are protected by labour laws, not like Qatar where they have nothing to protect them and are working under what most consider slave like conditions. Also consider this, at my compound no westerners have a maid, all the Arab and Indian families do, sometimes 2, although none of the wife’s work. Its a status symbol.
No Im not suggesting that, it there are too many variables and a case by case study would need to be conducted, and the nature vs nurture debate is still academically raging. Having said that it is the opinion of many psychologists, Psychiatrists, sociologists and criminologists around the world. Simply look at the academic studies conducted and you will see the opinion is supported.
I personally find it disgraceful that people sub contract their parenting out to maids , when they are time rich enough to do the majority of parenting. If you aren’t prepared to commit to children, don’t have them. Thats is my personal opinion.
Look around the malls, look around the compounds, Mum and Dad too busy shopping, , watching Tv, in Majlis, or socialising whilst the maid tends to the children, who in general are very poorly behaved from my observations and in comparison to children whose parents are parenting not the maid. Whilst we are on the subject of parenting the obesity rate of the children here and the fact they don’t strap them in when in cars is just straight out child abuse.
So when you combine the observations I make of maids ‘supervising’ the kids in public spaces all the time, the behaviour of those kids, attitude, no seatbelts or baby capsule in cars, feed them junk food until they are so fat they will near die of a heart attack at nine, combined with the absolute terrible PISA rates, well I don’t really think parenting in Qatar is quite up to the standard that children deserve.
Good on Ethiopia for taking a stance for protecting their people. If only all the countries would do the same, the exploitation would stop.