Wednesday, 25 August 2010

In the Newz: Sri Lankan Maids and cyber crime

A month ago Sri Lanka banned domestic helpers to be sent to Jordan because of salary problems. Several Sri Lankan maids had contacted their embassy because they were not paid their salary in full, they are here through an agency. In Jordan, you can mainly find maids from the Philippines or Sri Lanka. Filipinos are usually paid more. So the contracts for the Sri Lankan maids - and here we talk live-in maids - stipulate a salary of $200/month, ouch not an awful lot. I wouldn't be surprised if most of them were working 7 days a week from dawn to late night. Some would argue that they are better here, at least they can eat, have a sheltered place to sleep blabla bla. Yes, I agree there is a reason why they are here and not at home in Sri Lanka - but I think their conditions are a little worse than what they expected when they arrived here. I am writing like everybody treat their maids badly and that is of course NOT the case... However, there must be a reason why Sri Lanka put the ban in place to start with. So the article says that the domestic helpers were only paid $150/month (that's less that I pay my housekeeper who comes 4 mornings in the week). I'd be more than happy if they can sort this out and if the maids get their salary... but here comes the cherry on the cake: these recruitment agencies have of course lost money in the process so they are urging the government to speed up things so that they can start recruitment from other countries, like Ethiopia.Why? because it is becoming more expensive to recruit in Sri Lanka (or other countries like Indonesia or the Philippines). So what's the idea, pay the Ethiopian girls $100?
I think this is really one of the cultural differences I trouble the most with. When we rented our apartment, the owner showed us around and went in to a small room behind the kitchen and went "and this is for the maid". That room is 2x2m - yes there is also a shower and a toilet and a lock on the door. I just smiled nicely. I know for some it's normal, but not for me. You can read the full story form the Jordan Times here.

The second and more controversial subject in the papers is the Information Systems Crime Law 2010 which has been recently introduced and has come under great fire. Several articles can be found, including: cyber crimes law helps electronic media, where Marwan Juma, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology explains that the law is there to protect everyone and speaks primarily about cyber crimes such hacking and data interception. He also says that "The law penalises with a fine anyone who disseminates data or information, via the Internet or any information system, that involves defamation, contempt or slander of any person". Finally he talks about the article 13 (the most controversial) which gives the right to the police to raid "any place suspected of having been used to commit cyber crimes" with permission from the public prosecutor.
There is then another article in the Jordan Times: 'No linkage between cyber crimes law and blocking access to certain sites', and this one explains that the government has started banning access to certain sites because: "one hour wasted per day by each of the 100,000 public sector employees who have Internet access costs the government around JD70 million a year". OK this one I follow! In the private sector all kind of social networks (facebook, myspace...) are often restricted because yes it does cost a lot of money having employees updating their status, ranting about their job, the weather... but news websites?
Then to the more controversial article on Is Jordan the latest enemy of press freedom online? This article argues that the law is very vague - and it would allow the government to interpret the way they want - that it is an attempt to silence the critics and the local news sites. It also underlines the fact that the law is a temporary one and thus many say unconstitutional and " accuse the government of acting as if the state of emergency lifted 20 years ago is still in force. The Jordan Professional Associations Complex said the government "has once again violated the constitution by issuing more temporary laws that are not of an urgent nature, as stipulated in Article 94a of the Jordanian constitution." This articles also says that the police can do the raid mentioned above, without prior authorisation from the public prosecutor.

So the question is: what is defamation, contempt or slander?

Drawing from the International Herald Tribune


Ehab said...

Exactly, that's the million dollar question.

But, you have to be a little flexible, why do you want to give strict definitions anyway?! :P

Babs said...

No you are probably right :) why is it important :D??

Troubled said...

Do you really think 200$/month is not that much for someone who was living by 40$/month!
Engineers in Jordan get 400$/month after years of studying and investing in their careers...
Also, about the 2x2 room: girls who used to share a 4x4 room with their husband, kids, mother-in-law and other relatives find the 2x2 room a decent place with at least some privacy.
I hope you take into consideration the background of these girls before asking for more rights, and to understand that this ban will leave so many families abroad unfed because of the lack of job opportunities.

Babs said...

Well no sorry I don't think 200$ is a lot when a maid works 7 days a week - long long hours for most of them. No I don't think that 400$ for an engineer is enough either! And i don't care how they were living at home for that matter - people employing live-in maids have enough money and space to offer them A DECENT place to live don't you think? And what kind of backgrounds do you mean? most of them don't have a choice other than leaving their children (often when toddlers) to go to another country and not knowing when they will see them again - because their husband can't be bothered to find a job!!! You really think they wouldn't prefer to stay at home??! I have the possibility (and responsibility for that matter) to treat them correctly and that's what I do. I never said the ban was a good idea, but I understand why it would exist.
Yes when you compare I understand that 200$ is a lot...

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