Saudi rights official says 'search maids' for black magic
A member of a Saudi human rights organisation has encouraged employers to search their female domestic staff in case they have stolen valuable or personal items with which they may perform blackmail or "black magic", insisting that doing so would not violate the worker’s rights.
Dr. Suhaila Zain Al-Abidin, of Saudi Arabia's National Society of Human Rights, said such inspections were instead for "protection of the family".
She added that it was "a big mistake" for families "give maids protection and freedom", accusing domestic workers of being prone to stealing a household's belongings, making the need to search them a family's "legitimate right".
Al-Abidin recommended families use professional inspectors as maids may use secret hiding places to squirrel away the stolen goods
"Some workers use hiding places no one knows," Al-Abidin told Saudi news site Sabq.
Families are known to pay these professional maid searchers the equivalent of $100 for an inspection.
The inspection business seems to be thriving, with professionals holding workshops for housewives to work on their searching skills, according to the Saudi press.
Around one-third of Saudi Arabia's population are foreign migrants, many of whom come from South Asia and Africa and work in low-paid jobs in the oil-rich kingdom.
Due to the kafala system, whereby a migrant's right to work rests solely on the sponsorship of their employer which can be terminated without notice, they lack representation and basic rights and are often exploited, working long hours in extreme conditions for little pay.
Reports of abuse against domestic workers are rife, many of whom are starved, tortured, sexually abused and kept in de facto enslavement.
Racism also features heavily in the treatment of foreign domestic workers, often told they are inferior and to use separate eating and washing facilities.