I am writing this in reaction to Times of Oman article I read today about, 'Woman falls to her death in Oman.' Basically, the only information the article reveals is that a woman of unconfirmed Sri Lankan citizenship (no mention of her occupation) fell from a multi-story building in Buraimi and died. A chilling picture of the woman on the way down was also published with the article. There must be 20 or so comments of a heated nature readers posted below the story.
This is a very tragic incident, and I do not think the article did the woman justice and even if 'maid' issues are sensitive in Oman; the article could have mentioned the matter in a delicate manner or a least have given the actual facts. This is in essence what happened:
The woman was a maid and locked in an office building on the fourth floor with several other housemaids-to-be. The company employing the maids to be placed in households is run by a non-Omani Arab. She climbed out the window and held on to the outside before falling. There is a video going around but I find it distasteful to post it. It is unclear if she committed suicide or if she fell to her death after trying to escape but lost her grip holding the outside railing (the word is suicide but it seems to me it equally likely she fell trying to escape).
Some of the Times of Oman commenters were calling this lady 'mad' or saying such things as that they are providing jobs for you and if you don't like it go back to your own governments. Others saying housemaid are the main abusers of Omani children and do black magic. Abuse of housemaids in Oman and the whole GCC is a major concern and controversial. There are heated arguments on both sides. Abuse does take place and its a 'dark side' to Omani society, but, on the other side, domestic servants have been known to also do wrong such as steal gold and run away. Oman does have a labour law that is favourable to employees; however, it is not always enforced or followed. It is difficult from such a subordinate position with little resources for housekeepers to have their rights applied.
My take is - a job where you are locked-up and cannot come and go if you choose to- is not a job but something else. On a philosophical level, I find all human life to be miraculous and therefore should be respected and mourned when lost despite any background. The saddest part is that her death seems so unnecessary and it seems nothing will be changed for the better for housemaids here despite the incident.