Man and maids on cruise boat

Muna Al-Fuzai

This title sparked a debate on social media during the Eid holiday. Why? What is the cause of the outrage against this man? The answer is simple. A Kuwaiti man in his sixties was seen in a short video taking his three domestic helpers away from home on a cruise during Eid to enjoy the holiday. He said that they deserve the break and to have some fun on Eid just like we do. So he rented a boat and took the three women on a tour! What harm has he done? No clue!

Suddenly this man became a target of several comments that are disgusting, ignorant, arrogant and insulting, just because he thought his maids deserve a real holiday and little time for entertainment. Some of these ugly comments were saying things like, “They will never be grateful to you, why you are doing this to them”, “They don’t deserve anything”, or worse, “Clearly your family doesn’t care about you, so you have no company except for your maids”. I also found that most opinions were attacking the man’s behavior without any consideration that what he did was an act of courage in a society that still discusses whether giving the maid a day off or not is possible.

I have huge respect for this man and I believe what he did can be interpreted as a day off for the maids’ superb work that they do at all time, especially in Ramadan and during the school year. I think the term “maid” or “domestic helper” has a huge misperception here in Kuwait. First and foremost, is there a job description for this term? Is cleaning the house and taking care of children one job or two? I see this as two different tasks. The first may not require experience, but the latter needs a lot of experience and a school certificate, because it is a full-time job in itself. So, when a domestic helper is expected to perform these two missions plus maybe wash the car, she is doing multiple tasks daily, besides the pressure of being away from family and maybe no day off.

Another thing here is the dress code. I agree and understand that most work agencies around the world ensure that workers follow a dress code. But I don’t understand why a maid is forced to wear a hijab, for example. Or accompany the sponsor on family visits and the kids to the playground in the evening. So she in fact must do all the housework and yet has no choice when it comes to going out with the family wherever they wish at the end of the day. I wonder if it is in the job description that joining the family in their outings is compulsory!

Some may think these views are irrelative to this man’s video, but I wanted to clarify that this man was right to consider the hard work the domestic helpers do for him and his family, and this little gesture is a huge thank you to these ladies, who seemed very happy with smiles on their faces, savoring the happy moments. I would like to say a big thank you to you! What you did was unique, and it shows that not all Kuwaitis are alike. I hope this man doesn’t listen to any negative comments that come from haters.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
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