What would you do if you found out that your domestic helper is involved in witchcraft? Will you see her as a swindler that must be imprisoned or killed? I think it’s a question worth answering because your choice will determine the fate of that human being.

A female maid was reportedly killed in Kuwait at the hand of her employer allegedly because he thinks she was a “witch”! The details of the traffic situation remain unclear. Most local newspapers covered the story but only with the briefest of details. In a small news item, it was reported that a 28 year old Kuwaiti man who killed the family’s housekeeper, according to his words “because she was a witch”!!

At least one newspaper noted that the incident took place in Um Al Haiman area and that the maid, of Sri Lankan nationality, was strangled by her sponsor’s son after he assaulted her using a stick. There was nothing in that report about her being a ‘witch’ or discussion of other motives. It has become customary for some sponsors to complain about their discovery of their maids practicing magic or at least they suspect this without any concrete evidence but only by angry reactions or after a quarrel. Now, let’s debate the validity of this accusation. It simply means we have to look at the reasons for its occurrence. Most of these servants often do not have a minimum of education, and the majority of them do not even speak another language than their native one. They have grown up in extremely impoverished and many cases violent circumstances.

Only those with few other options would willingly choose to come to the Gulf to work as maids and household help. They arrive here with the hope of a better life. But the fact of the matter to me is that in the case many thousands of them, the ugly alternative is to enslavement of body in the form and a function of a maid. It’s a fact that must be recognized. I just also want to mention that governments that send their nationals to a region with documented problems without any training or preparation are also guilty.

This woman could call for help and save her life if she was told how and what to do. I think that it is perfectly reasonable that someone who is being abused, mistreated or overworked will get angry and act annoying. It is unfair and unjust that this kind of behavior is labeled as “madness or a practice of magic.” I think when these women are subjected to psychological pressure or problems such as delays in receiving salary,sexual harassment, torture or repeated insult it is natural to have arise quarrels between the family and the helper.

Even if it was proven that in this one incident the maid was practicing black magic, the police could be called or she could be sent home. The case is still open to investigation and despite all allegations, the right of the women, who are often wives, mothers and daughters must not be lost.

By Muna Al-Fuzai

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