As more countries with large domestic worker populations here step up efforts to protect their citizens, Qatar has been looking to hire maids from other poor nations.
But according to Mohammed Mubarak al Mohannadi, owner of Al Ihssan Manpower Agency, that strategy is falling short due to reluctance amongst sponsors to hire these maids.
Qatar Tribune reports:
Al Mohannadi said that the problem in Qatar was that the households have preference for housemaids of specific nationalities and did not want to explore new territories to hire housemaids and added that the Ministry of Labour had tried to open new markets but to no avail.
According to a recent UN report, domestic workers in Qatar work more hours a week than those in any other job in the country.
Late last year, Qatar instituted an unofficial ban on business and working visas for Filipinas entering the country. Local manpower agencies said the move was in response to attempts by the Philippines to reinforce minimum wage requirements for its workers around the world.
There are more than 40,000 Filipina maids in Qatar, and according to the standard contract, they should be paid some $400 (QR1460) a month, though their average pay in Qatar is around $247 (QR900).
Officials from countries that Qatar relies upon for maid have also spoken up in recent months.
Citing widespread reports of sexual and psychological abuse, Nepal in August of last year set an age bar for women seeking work in Gulf countries. Women under 30 are no longer allowed to work in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.
In January, Indonesia temporarily suspended recruitment of domestic workers to Qatar, saying it could not afford to help the increasing number of runaway maids seeking shelter at its embassy.
Searching for solutions
According to manpower agencies, physical abuse and low pay are the most common reasons women working as maids in Qatar flee their sponsors.
But agency officials did not advocate for raising of wages, despite low pay being an issue.
According to QT:
Most manpower recruiting agencies said that a raise in the new housemaids’ wages will only add to the problem as it would drive a wedge between old and experienced maids and the new, inexperienced ones with the latter to get more money than the former.
Instead, managers urged the government to form a sounder strategy that involves cooperation across ministries to curb the growing problem of runaways, which has increased in recent years.
Meanwhile, Qatar has scrapped plans to draft a law protecting maids’ rights here, though it has signed onto a GCC-wide initiative to form one.
Credit: Photo for illustrative purposes only by Samira