- Special Pages
By MOHAMMED IQBAL
DOHA: The Indonesian embassy, which temporarily stopped endorsing job contracts for Indonesian housemaids about two weeks ago, will resume the service on Sunday, a senior official said yesterday.
A sudden rise in the number of runaway maids seeking shelter at the embassy had forced the mission to take the extreme step.
“At one point, we had 32 runaway Indonesian maids who were given shelter at the embassy. This is putting a heavy financial burden on the embassy, because we are forced to pay air tickets for their repatriation,” Novi Fitmawati, a senior official at the embassy, told The Peninsula yesterday.
She said the embassy had decided to temporarily stop endorsement of job contracts so that the recruiting agents and employers would take the issue seriously.
The mission is likely to resume the service on Sunday, hoping that the situation would improve in the days to come.
“From next week, we will resume endorsing the contracts and continue to monitor the situation. If there is no improvement, we may be forced to take such measures again,” said the official.
Every day, three to five runaway maids seek shelter at the embassy. They are then transferred to the deportation centre.
“The problem is that there are no clear rules on who should provide air tickets for their repatriation,” said the official.
“We are expecting better coordination in this respect from the side of the recruiting agents as well as the sponsors,” said Fitmawati. The main complaints of the runaway maids are related to long working hours, lack of days off, low salary or non-payment of salary. The recruiting agents, sponsors and the maids — all are to be held responsible for the rise in the number of runaway housemaids, said the official.
“Addressing this issue is a collective responsibility. According to media reports, Qatar is currently working on a new law on domestic workers. This is a welcome step and we are hoping for early implementation of the law,” said Fitmawati. She said the embassy was receiving about 50 job contracts daily for endorsement from employers seeking to recruit Indonesian housemaids.
“Currently, there are about 1,000 Indonesian housemaids in Qatar, and their numbers remain more or less stable,” she said.