Saudi black market for maids?

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Dubai, Aug 16 (UNI) Ramadan season is spawning a new problem in Saudi Arabia: A thriving black market for maids.

An immigration official in Jeddah said Saudi citizens are trading domestic workers in black market particularly during the month of Ramadan when families seek out extra hands to deal with lots of visitors and iftar fast breaking.

''It is the citizens without any sense of patriotism who look for illegal domestic maids and encourage the black market to supply runaway housemaids or those who remain back in the country after Umrah or Haj season,'' Major General Adel Katib, assistant director general of Passport Department for Haj and Umrah in Makkah province, said in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

''There are citizens who tempt and lure housemaids with the help of expatriate middlemen to work for them with salaries several times higher than they used to receive from their sponsors on the basis of their contracts,'' he said.

Mr Katib said that sponsors would be penalized if they failed to report when a domestic worker runs away. Those who hire illegal maids can be jailed and fined 10,000 Saudi Riyal. If an expatriate were found to have committed such a violation, he would be fined and deported.

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