The rescue of a domestic worker in Kuwait


I would like to thank Mark again for giving me the opportunity to write here, and I know I don’t write as often as I should, but I thought it was very important to share with you what has been taking place behind the scenes of the blog.

I get a lot of emails on a daily basis from people who find my posts while searching for help online. The majority of the emails I get are from expats being mistreated in Kuwait, from CEO’s to blue-collar workers, they all seems to have issues but the worst off are the domestic workers. With that said, there is also a lot of humanitarian work and compassionate people in Kuwait and that in itself makes me very proud to be Kuwaiti.

I want to share with you a story of a domestic worker in Kuwait, how she came here, what happened and how she escaped. Most importantly though, I want to share what we can learn from her experience and how we can make Kuwait a better place.

The lovely woman is from an African country and I will give her the name Malika to respect her privacy. She wanted to move to the Arab world for better opportunity, so she started applying for jobs online. A few weeks later she got offered a job position to work as a supervisor and was promised a lucrative salary of 800 USD – 1,200 USD.

Her agent told her that she would meet her boss at the airport but when she arrived to Kuwait she was shocked to hear she was going to work as a maid.

“We were all taken to a room once we arrived at the Kuwait airport, many girls from many countries, some from Philippines, some from Nepal and many other Asian countries. Young girls even, some as young as 16 or 17, some thinking they were going to work as beauticians, but from my experience we were all there to work as maids”.

The girls waited in the room for hours at end, without water, food or any money, as their possessions were taken away. A woman then came and took them to an office where each girl had to wait for her employer to come and pick them up. Malika’s employer came and picked her up from the office and as soon as she got in the car with her new family, they asked her “Do you have a phone on you? You’re not allowed to have a phone, if you need to call someone, you need permission and you need to use the house phone”. So Malika quickly hid her phone on her.

She describes the house as being busy with a big family of 7 kids living there, she was shocked to see the situation as her agent had told her that she was going to be a supervising maid at the house and only be working from 7am-4pm, she described to me her feelings;

“The first night I couldn’t sleep, because I was crying and crying, I had a phone but no SIM card or money, so I used the phone to search the internet (wifi). I was so depressed working all day, from cooking to cleaning, the work was so much”


She told her employer that she wanted to leave, her employer responded to Malika that if she wanted to leave she had to pay 700 KD. So after some online searching she found her countries embassy’s number that was located in another GCC country. She used a VOIP app to contact them, they didn’t help her though, so she kept on searching online.

She kept fainting at work because the workload was inhumane, and her employer did not bother to take her to the hospital but instead took her to the agency and said that she wanted her money back. She accused Malika of being weak and lazy because she was fainting. The agency ended up beating her. But by going to the agency she found out that her sister and her sister’s friend had come to Kuwait as well, they were told that they would each work here as a nanny and as a waitress.


She was then taken back home by the employer, and she kept searching online for help when she found one of my posts on Marks blog’s. She said “I found out that I have rights and that I can leave. So I sent an email and I was so happy when I got an email back.” When I received her email, I assessed the situation and realized that the best person to help her would be Bibi Nasser Al Sabah from the Social Work Society of Kuwait, who have been aiding many workers in Kuwait over the past few years and I must say are making a huge difference in the lives of many here.


Bibi told Malika about her rights as an employee in Kuwait as well as the rights of her sister and her sisters friend who she was able to get in touch with. Bibi also told her there was a shelter available for them so all three ended up running away from their houses to the shelter. When they arrived to the shelter, Malika was searched and her possessions were taken away except for her clothes (thanks to Malika, the policy has now changed and the ladies at the shelter are allowed to keep their possessions). On Fridays, calls are allowed to be made from the shelter for 1 KD. One of the ladies at the shelter managed to sneak in her phone, Bibi transferred 20 KD for them and the ladies started contacting Bibi till she got them tickets and passports to get back home. They were there for around a month except for her sister who had to stay longer because she had a case against her that turned out to be fake accusations.

Malika says that being in Kuwait was one of the worst experiences in her life, she says that she has domestic workers at home and she treats them with respect and she would never treat anyone like this. She also told me something important;

“I don’t want to judge Arabs, even though I kept hearing mean stories at the shelter from the girls. I can’t judge because Bibi is Arab, so is Fajer, and so was the driver that helped me from the shelter to the airport. They were all so nice.”

Malika was lucky that she spoke fluent English, had internet access and was tech savvy that she was able to reach us at the blog. She is also a very smart lady that understands that issues need to be spoken about. Because of Malika the Social Work Society of Kuwait were able to help 24 other women at the shelter who Malika put us in touch with. I hope that we can learn from her experience and realize that yes there are really corrupt people in Kuwait but there are also a lot of passionate people like Bibi. We bring these topics up because we want to see change and I am positive that one day, Kuwait will be a better place.

Feel free to email me [email protected] with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to annanounce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.

57 replies on “The rescue of a domestic worker in Kuwait”


As you said in your post, seeing this selflessness in you and the rest of the people involved makes me proud to be a Kuwaiti.

Keep up the amazing job you are doing and please let us know how we can support this type of work.

I don’t understand ‘proud to be kuwaiti’ – so are the people that destroy these maids lives also ‘proud to be kuwaiti’? It’s meaningless to be proud of something you were born into without any choice. Be proud of your humanity and hard work and what you have in common with all humanity. To be ‘proud’ of anything you did not achieve – is meaningless. Happy to be Kuwaiti is another matter but pride? Kuwaitis are only doing what expats have been doing for some 4o, 50 years already in this country.

all the same good work – Im only talking about the choice of language. Patriotism has no place in this – its what caused the problem in the first place

Completely disagree with your point.

“Patriotism is what caused the problem in the first place”. How did patriotism cause abuse of domestic workers?

“To be proud of anything you did not achieve is meaningless”. I don’t know if you are joking or being serious because quite frankly I am dumbfounded by this statement. Essentially you are saying you can only be proud of yourself? Of course you can be proud of other people’s achievements. Acts of kindness and morality like the ones mentioned in the article make me believe in the potential of this country and its people (and humanity in general as you mentioned).

The reason I am proud is that Kuwaitis/ people from the Gulf have a bad reputation due to a lot of immoral/ inhumane activities (in many cases a well deserved reputation). To see people acting so selflessly to help the cause of others makes me very proud and will help educate society.

yeah but that’s you being proud of other ppls ACHIEVEMENTS and what theyve worked at – not the arbitrariness of their nationality.

My stress is not on ‘to be proud of anything YOU did not achieve is meaningless’ it is on ‘to be proud of anything you didnt ACHIEVE is meaningless’

you see what i mean? yeah you can be proud of these ppls actions and achievemnts, and your own and anyone’s really. But to be proud that you or they or this person that does some good, was born kuwaiti – is meaningless. proud to BE kuwaiti – the operative word being be… is meaningless

actually i agree with what you’re saying for the most part – except yes i stand my comments on patriotism. Patriotism – proud to be kuwaiti – is a pride in the cultural features that for the most part, define what it means to be kuwaiti. for YEARS and YEARS one of those features has been getting ppl from other countries to do shit for them. Maids and drivers are status symbols. the more you have the richer you are. It’s part of what it means to be kuwaiti. Yes there are tonnes of good things about being kuwaiti too – but that’s what i’m saying – pride in being kuwaiti is meaningless because you have to take on the bad shit as well.

Just be proud of the positive things you and others can achieve – and not what it means to the kuwaiti identity. That is meaningless

So basically you can’t be proud of something a family member achieved or something your country men have done? That’s just incorrect

Firas, don’t make such a silly argument. No one is generalizing. This is a real issue. Kuwaitis treat non-Kuwaitis as sub-human, and pay slave wages. Don’t sugar coat it with you silly excuses. It’s the truth.

Mohammed you just generalized again. All Kuwaitis do not treat all non Kuwaitis as sub human that’s a generalization and not the truth.

@Firas – you haven’t actually said anything to prove him wrong. So the slavery extends to your own kind? well done!

Until the problem itself is solved (corrupt agencies, and their corrupt agents), I’m afraid this type of abuse will continue.

The family was not reprimanded? Neither was the agency or the agent at the victim’s home country that recruited her under false pretences.

I know a few Kuwaitis and they almost all have maids; some even talk about the costs as they have to pay for the maids return tickets and that the maid agencies are such a scam.

However, there needs to be a clear forum for these types of complaints or at least a government agency that supervises agents.

Mark, I think you should also add to the post the location of the Government funded “Kuwait Shelter For Expats” located in Jleeb Area.

I second that and add also the need to put a help line phone number with a post translated to several African/Asian languages to help all the ones in need, as Fajer said the girl is lucky to know some English, I believe many others are overlooked because they simply have no means to understand and communicate their ordeals !
Hopefully more awareness campaigns can go to several media outlets to stop these agents and families who are taking advantage of these poor souls !

Hello Fajer, there is new laws for domestic workers in Kuwait. Kuwait’s parliament has taken a major step forward by providing domestic workers with enforceable labour rights for the first time.

Kuwait has set an important precedent for its Gulf neighbours by accepting that domestic workers’ rights should be protected in law.

Other Gulf states should follow Kuwait’s lead.

Kuwait has many laws, which look good on paper and good for boasting to international organisations, but it also has very weak enforcement of these laws, and plenty of corruption that prevent justice.

Hi Fajer,

I was really moved by this article.In Fact, it inspired me to do something about this issue. If you could give me the contact details Social Work Society of Kuwait then I could join them or contribute in some way. God bless.

Everyday I hear stories like this.
Unless they stop the payment for hiring maids, they will forever be slaves.

Plus why don’t Kuwait work with the ones already in the country instead of hiring from outside. What’s the point deport hire deport hire…
Give the ones in the country proper rights,
Rights to buy flats
Rights to have their family here
Rights to drive
Rights to develop
Rights to grow
Rights to be happy

I design and build houses for Kuwaitis, I refuse to work when the room of their maids are shoe boxes… And it happens often.

Sadly this is common in the ” Arabian Gulf ” Not Middle East, at least in the Middle East they can shout out for help.

Anyone have the Location of ” Kuwait Shelter For Expats ” and the people who support people such as that person who was a slave here?

So I can help spread the word.

Im really proud of you all in having a heart to help the helpless…..

I was born in kuwait and i still reside in kuwait…I love kuwait…
on the other hand the younger generation of kuwait do not know about the older kuwait where people used to help each other… now u have modern slavery in every household …… for this reason i feel the country will learn the hard way… God forbid… God bless kuwait and all its residents ….

Surprised to see no one giving mark some props for putting this up and actively seeking stories like this that make kuwait a better place for us all to live in. I find it humbling to see how much hate this man puts up with and continues to promote kuwait as if it were his own country. Props man.

I think this will truly bless everyone involved including Mark, because through this site a lot of people were able to escape their hell.

To be kept against one’s will and to wake up each day to harassment and fear is the worst situation a person can be in.

God bless all those who relieved them from this situation.

I pray earnestly that I may not fall into such a situation as well as put some one through it knowingly or unknowingly. Because if I do that the curse will resonate through my descendants.

Mark, i usually don’t comment much but i’ve been a reader for years. I think your efforts have been seriously under appreciated and i personally want to say thank you for everything that you do to help this country as if it was your own, i wish more people would understand and see the difference that you help to make.

God bless you, Fajer & Bibi!
This is such a heartbreaking story but it has such a happy ending thanks to all of you. i’m sure she will forever be grateful to what you have done and i wish her all the best in her life! Thank you all for giving people even the slightest hope.

Moved on reading the story. Also realise the girl was lucky that she knew English. There must be thousands like her. I see so many comments but a couple of them are practical. Why don’t we actively seek out such people (could be male or female ) in distress and help make our society better. I, for one, am willing to volunteer to rescue people from modern day slavery.

Wait… What?!?!?

From an employer that does not allow phones to a shelter that does not allow phones AND charges 1kd!?!?!?

As long as house helps are considered to be sub-human and treated as properties, nothings gonna change.

My ‘ fabulous’ maid was with me two years, was married with a child. She was paid 100KD a month, had her own room and bathroom , two hours off each afternoon for lunch, Friday’s off and went to bed around 9. All her clothes, food, toiletries were provided by me.
She told me she had one phone.
The day before she was due to go on her annual leave, we found a naked Bangladeshi man in her room, 3 am during Ramadan, under the bed. No mistaking what he was there for and it wasn’t to clean the windows.
I have two children, one of whom is a girl ). He ran away. I then found four other phones on her, with photos of her and the man IN my house ( when I wasn’t there ) and in her room WHILE we were at home and when she was babysitting. This dated back for months according to the time stamp on photos.
What’s my point? While there definitely ARE horror stories of domestics being treated badly in Kuwait, there are also other stories ( usually untold ) of how some workers have abused their employers.
This woman whom I had trusted and treated very well, had abused my trust and put my children’s lives in possible danger by allowing a Bangladeshi worker into my home to sleep with her while myself and my children were present – while at the same time making sure she prayed and wore her hijab like a good Indonesian Muslim. I dread to think what might have happened to my daughter had this ******* decided to enter her room.
Please do not accuse all Kuwaiti employers of being slave traders and torturers, and I in turn will try ( inspire of what happened to me and my family) not to judge all domestic workers badly in future.

you think 100 kd a month is a fair wage?! would you be ok with being paid so little considering the amount of work involved?
also while its true that it was bad for her to not be watching the kids when she was supposed to be, she has the right to a sex life and its literally none of your business what she does at 3am in the morning.
finally whats the relationship between anything she did and how religious she is?

‘you think 100 kd a month is a fair wage?! would you be ok with being paid so little considering the amount of work involved?
also while its true that it was bad for her to not be watching the kids when she was supposed to be, she has the right to a sex life and its literally none of your business what she does at 3am in the morning.
finally whats the relationship between anything she did and how religious she is?’

1- 100 KD whether fair or not, was the sum she agreed on and signed up for a third year.
2- Re ‘the amount of work involved’, you aren’t in my house and have no idea what work was involved.
3- Re ‘the right to have a sex life’ – no she was breaking the law on several levels, and did not have a right to do this on my property ( can you bring whoever you like into your employers office and do the business?)
4- Re religion – you aren’t very bright are you? Posing as an acting Muslimah while entertaining men in your room is deception
Now having cleared up all that, isn’t Amnesty International or something waiting for your expert opinion somewhere….
And if yu had taken the time to actually read my post, you would have seen that it began by agreeing that the condition of many domestics in Kuwait was horrific – I find it appalling and somewhat pathetic that you feel the need to accuse ME and at the same time defend a woman who cheated me and put my children’s lives at risk- you for the sake of ‘rebel appeal’.

Oh and by the way…. You say ‘it is literally none of your business what she does at 3 am in the morning’….. Exactly what planet are you on?
This was IN MY HOUSE and therefore it is ‘literally’ 100% my business – or do you suggest I just leave the gate and kitchen door open tonight to allow any Tom, Dick or Harry to pop in unannounced for a cuppa.
Dear God in heaven …. I hope you don’t have a position of responsibility anywhere …..

How exactly is it none of her business what goes on in HER house at 3am?? claiming to be a muslimah (heading off 5 times a day to pray-meanwhile doing the dirty at night is deception and betrayal), and bringing strange men into your employers house is completely unacceptable on every level and the fact this woman has a daughter is even worse. Would you say the same had the gentleman in question gone into the daughter’s room and raped her?

Yes, there are absolute nightmare stories in Kuwait but there are many of us that treat our nannies well, giving them days off (not one), allowing phones, giving extra salary, cooking their food and allowing them to sit with the family and watch tv- many of us STILL get f#$/=$ over.

I hate the mentality of some in Kuwait including but not limited to kuwaitis… The ‘slave’ set up does need to come to an end.
I for one am glad of the recent changes in law and I hope they will come into effect.

Have to also point out many of us come to Kuwait and something that everyone is very clear about is the laws in Kuwait… I’m pretty sure sex at 3am in her employees house with a Bangaldeshi driver is punishable by law and if she is married, she has committed adultery.
many of these maids bring on trouble themselves….
In the UK, it wouldn’t be punishable by law but I’m sure if a nanny was found to have a man in her employer’s house at 3am, she would rightly be fired and sent back to wherever she comes from. sick of reading about these poor maids and their abuse. what about the abuse and deception that their sponsors are subjected to?

My God I just wana talk about the 100kd u think it’s worth ur freedom as a human being and to be, I cal it being lmprisoned in the house for two years. If u think ur life is worth this then 4 sure u need medical attention.not forgetting working nice an day without time for itself.

While i sympathise with your situation – this comes from unrealisitic expectations by you and many in Kuwaiti society. If you expect to have a human being work for you and live with you – expect her private life to intersect with yours. That is unavoidable and sometimes its in harmless ways but sometimes yes this stuff happens too. But if you have to move away from your wife and husband, that does not mean people arent emotionally and psychologically lonely.

If all Kuwaitis just learned to do their own stuff without relying on people from other countries then this owuldnt happen either.

And by far it is MORE important to focus on the issue of maid abuse by kuwaitis (which is in stark majority and based on a system of slavery and illegal human trafficking) than it is to look at individual cases where maids have a boyfriend or sleep with someone. no one is saying this is acceptable behaviour – it isnt – but maid abuse is more important to combat. heck i would like it if each kuwaiti just learned to do stuff for themselves.

If Kuwaitis just learned to do their own things?

Are you serious?
lol, there is a triangle of hierarchy everywhere in the world, these people sign up, they are from the third world and many of them work in harder conditions than they do in Kuwait. I’m not saying it’s right but saying something so idiotic shows how uneducated you are. These people need jobs and kuwaitis provide them with that. many of these maids would turn to prostitution if they did not have these jobs.

Uhhh @sayingitlike it is – you are completely clueless. Normal, middle class women are coming to kuwait anad WORKING as prostitutes because of the faulty contracts that KUWAIT is giving them. Women from poor fmilieis who have agricultural backgrounds are coming to Kuwait and BECOMING prostitues because of unpain wages.

This is the problem here – you think kuwait – out of the goodness of its heart – decided to CREATE jobs for people from thirdworld countries? No mention of Kuwait NEEDING people for it to grow. You are wilfully blind if you havent at least mentioned that the supply in this case has followed demand and not the demand created to be generous to the supply.

And yes Kuwaitis cant take care of their own basic shit. Try a year of not having a maid, doing your own cooking, cleaning (yep around the bowl as well like most humans have to do for themselves), raising your own kids, going to work – try it all for yourself. A kuwaiti who is used to the current system simply cannot do it.

You guys are what is holding Kuwait back. Incapable of taking care of your own shit without a third world entourage.

lol… I’m not Kuwaiti and I do clean around the ‘bowl’, unfortunately your assumptions are way off. I am a white Brit. I have many kuwaitia friends, many that teach their daughters AND sons how to do their own laundry AND the dreaded ‘bowl’.

Do u think is everybody that came to kuwait no d exactly work he /she came to do many where lie to by there agents if d agent comes out and tell them this is the situation on ground did u think many we accept d offers but i belt u very soon kuwait wil cry for maids butthey we not see one ,maybe by then they will know d important of maids and learn how to do things by there selfs do u think everybody that came here is poor in dere country but bcos of circumstances that wrant them and bcos of d support kuwait support their selfs when it come to issues .kuwait just wait and see


I don’t know how you were brought up, and I won’t make the mistake you’ve made in assuming that I know.
I know how to take care for myself and i do. Don’t assume that we have to go through the same process as you have to act like decent human beings. You had to learn it, others know nothing else but to treat maids humanely. so stop with your “Kuwaitis should..” BS!

Yes of course you are right. I appreciate your sympathy – thanks.
Yes, I just wanted to also put out there that there are a minority of domestics who do abuse their employers and also a majority of employers who treat their domestics like family- this is often underplayed.


I don’t know how you were brought up, and I won’t make the mistake you’ve made in assuming that I know.
I know how to take care for myself and i do. Don’t assume that we have to go through the same process as you have to act like decent human beings. You had to learn it, others know nothing else but to treat maids humanely. so stop with your “Kuwaitis should..” BS!

I’m happy I came across this page. To be frank I’m fascinated as to how most Kuwaitis respond positively.
This is my own story and how I got to Kuwait. It all started somewhere in February this year, I met a guy back in my country in Africa, that is Ghana to be specific who told me he have some “connection” as normally termed in Ghana here in Kuwait and that a reputable company needs security guards to employ. I showed interest because he said I will be paid $1000 per month. I was happy and more than willing, so he demanded I pay $1500 for the processing my my visa and tickets which I paid. When I arrived at the airport of Kuwait on the 1st of April it was a different scenario. I was taken to an agency in Jabra and was told. I’m going to take care of sheep on the desert. That was a blow I haven’t recovered till now, because I’m trapped in the sense that I quitted my job which is 100 times better than what I’m doing right here in Kuwait. And the wages i was promised never manifested instead I receive 70kd a month. I can’t even call my mom to tell her what I’m going through because I fear I might break her heart. I Fasted 30 Days during the fasting and can tell you it was hell. I Iive a tent and the weather is extremely hot. I Have been on the desert for five months now. It’s I’m not the only one over here , we are trapped. We work 24hours a day and no day off and this will continue for 2years. We don’t go any where ,we just work even at night because we have to stay awake and look after the sheep.I’m a muslim and what I have been taught is that a man should not be ashamed of his work if it brings you good deeds and avoid you from stealing,so I’m not ashamed of being a shepherd although I’m well educated but the thing is my freedom have shackled.And the funny thing is our employers call themselves Muslims but will not Allow us to go to the mosque on Fridays. All they do is they want us to always work,they don’t care even if we don’t pray.Hmmm on the day of Judgement Allah will fight for what they are denying us. Maybe someone reading this will say why we don’t run away or protect, but I tell you if we try to run away they will file a false case against us. And another problem is abuse,they beat my co workers although non have tried that on me yet. We just hope one day our two years contracts will be over. So that we can go back peacefully to our various countries.

I am an expat living in Kuwait. I can understand both views, but I have not had good experiences with maids/houseboys.

Many women (both expat and Kuwaiti) had problems with some Filipino maids. They purposely seek sexual relations with their husbands. I know this first hand. Other (Filipino)girls come to Kuwait for prostitution, the corrupt agencies bring them in for such work. I would never employ a Filipino maid again.

I have had both male/female domestic workers from India. Unfortunately, no matter how long my wife trained them, they were lazy and very dirty. It became a frustration we could not live with.

We have had Sri Lanka (both male/female), and they seem to be the most hardworking. Unfortunately, they give a lot of sass! I think of my employer, and if I made similar comments, I would be without a job. That is the key point here. Domestic work is a job, and many of these workers are unwilling to learn it. As a result, bad things usually happen…

There are bad apples on each side. The majority of the agencies are pimping/slave agencies. They must be regulated.

Yes, there are indeed ‘mean spirited’ people who abuse others for sport. And I truly feel sorry for their victims.

My point was to clearly see the other side. It’s not always about ‘bad employers’. We have not had a good maid yet. We expect a clean home. We expect them to learn if they don’t know how. We take a lot of time training, even when they speak very good English. Most don’t want to be bothered and do it their way which is unacceptable to us. This creates many problems, headaches and loss of money on visas and agency fees.

I was told coming to Kuwait I will spend three months and after that with my CCNA certification I will continue in the ICT field but I don’t know how to go about the realise procedure beside the salary is 2times less than what I usually received in my home country pls can some one help

I have a sister in kuwait working as a house help, she is been maltreated by her employer and the wife, last week the woman beat her so this week on 27/01/2017 when they went out she run to their agency office to report whats going on, the man and the wife came there to beat her up and force her to go with them and the office people did nothing she sent me the mans contact number and said she dont know where they are taking her to, they took all her documents and passport from her,

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