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Indonesian helpers in Saudi Arabia

  1. #1
    ssheng is offline Registered User
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    Jun 2009
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    Indonesian helpers in Saudi Arabia

    I hadn't been following the helper situation in SA, but recent posts regarding helper treatment in HK (the one where several people discussed helpers complaining of not enough food being given to them by employers) made me think more about helpers and their situations.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/me...ers/index.html

    Do any of you ever feel guilty about having a helper? While I might be potentially 'better' than some employers, which apparently is stereotypical of expats, there is no question that I could not afford someone who did as much as my helper back in the US - I would have to hire a maid, cook and nanny at a minimum, and pay them all a true minimum wage. My helper has a young child that she sees fewer times a year than I see some of my friends back home. That being said, I am also aware of how being a domestic helper in a place like HK which is superior to a place like SA, is considered a great opportunity for many domestic helpers who end up here. Just curious what people think...
    Last edited by ssheng; 07-02-2011 at 11:04 AM.

  2. #2
    lisa88 is offline Registered User
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    No I do not feel guilty about having a domestic helper. Having a domestic helper is very much the norm in Asia and I only hear this discussion about guilt amongst those who have lived in Western countries, then come to Asia as expats. In my view, as long as I treat my helper fairly (decent working hours, enough rest and time off, privacy, respect, no beatings, sufficient food to eat, punctual payment of salary, some moral support) I have done my part in exchange for her work well done. That said, not everyone shares my view and I know many Asian families who work their maids to the bone and go against the maids cultural beliefs (forcing Muslim maids to eat pork), taking advantage of maids, abuse etc.

    Asia has had a long cultural history of having servants - including slavery during feudal times. I am opposed to slavery but I know that with slavery and indentured labour, it was culturally expected that the owner/employer was the 'patron' of the slave's family ie entire family or even entire village upkeep, and promises to have them properly married off or cared for. With industrialization and introduction of modern labour laws/working conditions, all this has changed significantly, and all for the better. Women have worked for centuries but they could often bring their babies to their workplace (farms, family businesses etc) but it is completely different in the corporate environment today, post women's lib where women compete (or at least, try to) with men on equal terms. Having a helper then becomes a necessity if both parents work; and if no live in helper then a complete array of part-time helpers, cleaners and tutors. For couples with no kids, having a live-in is I think a luxury but not everyone thinks the same.

    That's my two cents' worth.

  3. #3
    lisa88 is offline Registered User
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    PS - I also think that if my helper does a good job and I reward her well (bonuses, gifts) then I am making a difference to her life and her children back home. I cannot single-handedly solve or transform her home country's political and economic problems, but in a real way I can help her improve her lot. Is she just a worker or is she part of my family? A bit of both, in my case.

  4. #4
    Liquorice is offline Registered User
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    I used to feel guilty but I don't anymore. I hire a couple (husband and wife). I pay them minimum wage. Their combined income is the same as my mother earned (net, after tax) as a Senior 1 Physio in the UK. On this she had to pay her mortgage, all the bills and raise a family. Similarly, a quarter of Hong Kong's population earn the same as household income per month, and again with this they have to pay rent, bills, food etc. My helpers don't pay rent, bills or food, they don't work very hard and with the money they earn they are able to build a house and put their son through education. There are no jobs in their home country so they want to be here.

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