Dubai’s Public Prosecutor is investigating the case of a housemaid who claims she was beaten up and had her hair shaved by her Arab employers.
Ethiopian housemaid Hawa Ali, 17, worked as a maid for an Emirati family in Dubai, but she ran away to escape the alleged torture.
Hawa is under-age and according to the law cannot be employed as a maid, but she changed her age in her passport back home in order to come to the UAE to work and to support her family.
Police said the employer claimed the housemaid stole Dh30,000 from the house before she ran away and he filed an absconding case against her.
Police said the employer tried to sort out the issue by offering her Dh1,000 as two months’ salary and another Dh500 as compensation for her hair loss, but the victim refused the offer.
Police said the employer then offered to pay the victim Dh10,000 to drop the case against him which she accepted and agreed to waive the case.
Police said the employer later changed his mind and took the compensation back from the police, saying he wanted the case to go to court.
“Now the case is being investigated by public prosecution,” police said.
Start of ordeal
Hawa said her pain and agony started two weeks after she started working.
“The family also forcibly shaved my head and harassed me if I did not do enough work,” she told said. Hawa said she was the sole maid in the house of this family where she spent two months before fleeing. “I used to work to serve the five family members and to wash their three vehicles every day.
“Two weeks after I joined work, only when my residence visa was stamped, the wife and the husband started torturing me,” she said.
“They used to beat me with clothes hangers on different parts of my body. They used to call me “cow” and “stupid” in Arabic, and used to ask me to shut up every single moment,” she alleged.
“If the wife saw dust any-where in the house she used to wipe it with her hand and put it on my face and slap me, and then used to call her husband to beat me,” she said.
She said the day she escaped, the man asked her to clean two of his cars early in the morning while he was going to work.
“When the wife woke up to go to work, she asked me why I was washing the two cars and she shouted at me. When they came back from work at around 4pm they called me to their sitting room,” she said.
A investigation revealed that Hawa was working with the family in a very large house in Bur Dubai. The family had brought her here through a labour agency from a remote village in Ethiopia. Hawa said after beating her, the husband shaved her hair while the wife used scissors to cut Hawa’s dress. “They used some sharp material to beat me also,” she alleged.
“When I saw my hair falling on the ground I was very angry, sad and shocked as I had never cut my hair before and I have never seen a woman in my village cutting her hair. I felt so desperate that I started running to escape,” she said.
“I was half naked, barefoot and in severe pain, and I cried a lot. I started running away as fast as I could. I heard the wife asking her husband to catch me, but I left the house at this moment,” she said.
“While I was running in the neighbourhood I saw the door of a house open. I saw a man, a woman and children and a housemaid going to their car. When they saw me, they were upset,” she said.
“They gave me clothes and they called the police. When the police arrived I was terrified that they would take me back to my employer but I was told that they would help me and take care of me,” she said.
She said when she went to the police station, the employer and his wife were there. Police confirmed that the Emirati family had approached them .
“We sent the victim for medical examination at Rashid Hospital soon after she was brought to us,” they said.