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Maids with mobile phones: A dilemma for UAE residents
  • 30 June
  • 2

Ref: Khaleej Times

There are many families who do not want the housemaid to have a mobile phone. Also, it is dangerous if housemaids share information of what is going on in the employer's house

The misuse of mobile phones by domestic helps has sparked fear among families especially after the Dubai public prosecution referred an Asian housemaid to the criminal court on Monday for allegedly breaching the privacy of her employers. The maid had used her mobile phone to shoot a photograph of the couple (her employers) and their children and shared it through WhatsApp. Families employing maids are now in a dilemma since they cannot prevent maids from using mobile phones. So where does that freedom end?

Khaleej Times spoke to a number of lawyers who explained that housemaids cannot be prevented, within the purview of the law, from possessing a mobile phone. "A housemaid cannot be forfeited the right of using the mobile phone, which would mean preventing her from communicating with her friends and family, especially in her home country," said Ahmed Al Amiri.Al Amiri, a lawyer by profession, said housemaids can shoot general photos outside the house or such photos that would not in any way breach the privacy of her employer's family. And she can post or share such photos with her friends. What happens inside the house cannot be made public, he said.

"The argument is based on the culture of domestic helpers. There are many families who do not want the housemaid to have a mobile phone. Also, it is dangerous if housemaids share information of what is going on in the employer's house," said Al Amiri.
In this context Al Amiri cited the anti-cybercrime law issued in August 2012.

Article (21) stipulates, ..."Shall be punished by imprisonment of a period of at least six months and a fine not less than Dh150,000 and not in excess of Dh500,000 or either of these two penalties whoever uses a computer network or and electronic information system or any information technology means for the invasion of privacy of another person in other than the cases allowed by the law and by any of the following ways:
1-   Eavesdropping, interception, recording, transferring, transmitting or disclosure of conversations or communications, or audio or visual materials.
2-  Photographing others or creating, transferring, disclosing, copying or saving electronic photos.
3-  Publishing news, electronic photos or photographs, scenes, comments, statements or information even if true and correct.
...Shall also be punished by imprisonment for a period of at least one year and a fine not less than Dh250,000 and not in excess of Dh500,000 or either of these two penalties whoever uses an electronic information system or any information technology means for amending or processing a record, photo or scene for the purpose of defamation of or offending another person or for attacking or invading his privacy.

Privacy and personal freedom are guaranteed according to the Sharia law. Hence photos should be posted prudently said Omran Darwish, another lawyer. He stressed that housemaids and other domestic helps like chauffeurs and gardeners should be educated about the culture of the employer's family and told about the dos and don'ts in the house.

malzarooni@khaleejtimes.com 

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