Domestic helpers searched before flying home

August 24, 2012

Om Fayez, a Saudi national, has a unique occupation: Searching domestic helpers before they board the plane to go home.

“It all started when my mother was the victim of a domestic helper who stole her jewellery,” Om Fayez said. “I thought that helpers who were about to go home should come clean or made to come clean.

When my sister’s helper was about to leave, I was called in by my sister to search her. I discovered that she was taking with her some precious things that she stole from my sister’s home,” she told local Arabic daily Al Sharq.

Pleas from her mother’s neighbour, relatives and friends made Om Fayez give more consideration to “searching helpers” and eventually honed her skills in ensuring that the helpers are “clean.”

Soon, the amateur “inspector” was offered money for her “assistance”, although she initially refused. “I was offered money for searching a helper, but I initially refused. However, when I thought about it and about how exhausting it was, I decided to take in the money and to train another woman who would help me,” she said, quoted by the daily.

Om Abdul Raoof proved to be remarkably skilled and gradually earned an outstanding reputation. “With Om Abdul Raoof with me, I turned into a consultant who offered advice to women who needed assistance to deal with their domestic helpers,” Om Fayez told the Saudi daily. A strong character and a good level of intelligence are needed to move ahead in the “career” of searching and interviewing helpers, she said. “Sometimes, diplomacy is needed, but that is a rare option.”

“On the negative side, reactions by domestic helpers can be a terrible thing. Once, a helper became so hysteric when I started going through her belonging that we needed one hour to calm her down,” Om Abdul Raoof said. “She even made a scene and injured her foot to fool us and forget about searching her. We eventually found a large amount of money that she stole gradually over the two years she spent in the service of the family,” Om Abdul Raoof said.

The “inspector” said that in some instances, she had to deal with the angry looks by women who were upset to learn that their helpers were clean and did not steal anything. “They feel that the SR250 ($67) or SR400 ($106) they give us should yield results. Not pinning a helper means that their money was wasted,” she said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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