Many installing cameras at home to monitor maids

April 03, 2012 - 12:55:15 am

DOHA: An increasing number of households are installing surveillance cameras at home to monitor their domestic helps.

Offences committed by housemaids have become major talk at gatherings and on social networking sites, and hence many families are looking at having cameras installed at home, a local daily reported.

“Earlier these cameras were installed at schools, hospital and public places for surveillance,” said Ibrahim Helmi, Manager of a company specialised in surveillance system.

“Now we see more people turning up with requests to have these cameras installed at home. This is mainly to monitor housemaids, while some are installed to check on children too,” he said.

Recent crimes like contaminating food with human body fluids in neighbouring GCC countries, horrifying stories of children being tortured, black magic by domestic helps and local stories about stealing and illicit relationships have spurred the demand for cameras, the daily reported.

“I have a camera installed at home, which is linked to my mobile phone. We have informed the maid about the camera, so that it won’t be an encroachment on her privacy. We were afraid to have a maid due to the horrifying stories we heard, but with the camera, I can check on my children even while I am at work,” said Ilham Nazar, an executive at a private company.

“Various crimes happening around us prompted me to install the camera,” said Umm Sa’ad.

While many like Nazar supports the use of camera, some debate its need. Still many other say that surveillance camera is a necessary evil.

“I am embarrassed to monitor domestic helps. How can a human being be monitored 24 hours, it is a major interference on her human rights and privacy. However, with number of mishaps happening around us we cannot object people from installing cameras at homes,” said Suad Abdul Hamid, a teacher.

“I would rather call this spying than surveillance,” said Najiya. According to her, most of the crimes and misconduct will not happen if the housemaids are treated properly with dignity.

“A move to install camera at my office was protested against by all the staff, especially women as we felt so insecure. Our housemaids are also human beings. First people should learn to treat servants as human being and a member of family. A domestic help’s dignity is never below ours. There should be good communication and intimate relation with the maid, so these problems can never happen. Even children should be taught to respect her. With this treatment, she will always stay by the family and we do not have to fear any misbehaviour from the housemaid’s side,” she said.