From Philippines to Pakistan: Maids can be brought in for only a few thousand rupees

Published: February 24, 2013
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A Filipina maid cleans a mirror during a government-mandated crash course in domestic duties in Manila on September 14, 2011. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

A Filipina maid cleans a mirror during a government-mandated crash course in domestic duties in Manila on September 14, 2011. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

KARACHI: 

For the well-to-do in Pakistan, bringing a Filipina maid into the country is a matter of a few hundred thousand rupees.

For only Rs350,000 to Rs400,000, a local agent can ensure that a trained, English-speaking Filipina maid is legally brought to Pakistan. This amount covers the cost of the work visa, plane ticket, paperwork and also the agency’s commission.

An official of the Islamabad-based Embassy of the Philippines, Humayun Masood explained how this works. “If a family in Pakistan is looking for a Filipina maid, they approach an agent with their criteria,” he said. “The family can also go through the resumes of domestic workers that the agency has, and then make a decision.”

The agency then sends an invitation letter and a No Objection Certificate to the worker that has been selected, so that she can apply for a visa. “The agency handles the paperwork,” said Masood, adding that the embassy itself deals with only four “authorised” agencies. The Filipino workers are all registered with the embassy.

Atiq Alvi of the agency, Alvi Associates Lahore, said that when a Filipina maid is brought to Pakistan, she signs an agreement with her employer, but her salary of $400 per month has been fixed by the embassy. The agency’s commission is not deducted from the worker’s monthly salary, he added. “Usually, there are no problems between the maid and the employer but if there are issues then we [the agency] help resolve them,” he said. “In most cases, things are sorted out. If not, the employer can dissolve the contract and get a new maid.”

Not all cases are, however, so simple. Marium Shaikh said that the $3,500, which comes to around Rs350,000, that she paid to an agency in 2009 went to waste. “Dr [name removed] is a fraud,” Shaikh told The Express Tribune. “She gave me an untrained maid who could not speak English. Why should I have to train my maid if I’m paying so much money to keep her?”

When Shaikh complained to the agency after two months, she was told to send the maid back for training. “I never heard from them again,” she recalled.

Grace’s experience

Twenty-six-year-old Grace, a Filipina maid, came to Pakistan three years ago, “When things were not so strict it was easier for me to come here, but now the embassy in the Philippines has warned us that Pakistan is not safe,” she said. After receiving a letter of invitation, all aspiring maids have to submit IDs and an NOC. After that, they have to undergo a two-week training period and a medical test. “If a Filipino wants a work visa for Pakistan, they have to show that they can cook and clean and that they know how to speak English,” she explained. “Having contacts and friends’ in the embassy makes the process easier.”

Grace works in Islamabad, but she was brought to Pakistan by an agent in Lahore. “My first employers were so bad. They did not pay on time and didn’t give me days off. So I just ran away!”

With the help of some Filipino friends in Islamabad, she approached the Embassy of the Philippines. Since her employers had withheld her passport, she filed a police report for a ‘lost’ passport and filed for a new one by showing a photocopy of her work visa. “I hear many stories about bad employers, so I tell all my Filipino friends that if they are unhappy with their employers and want to run away, they must have a photocopy of their work visa.”

Grace has managed to obtain a Pakistan Origin Card, even though people usually have to marry a Pakistani citizen to get this card. “Pakistan is not such a strict country,” she said in a matter-of-fact tone. “If you have friends at the embassy like I do, you can convert your work visa to a POC for Rs70,000 without showing a marriage certificate.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Nadir
    Feb 24, 2013 - 7:41AM

    “For only Rs350,000 to Rs400,000″….only?

    Recommend

  • Pro Bono Publico
    Feb 24, 2013 - 8:39AM

    Aren’t there enough unemployed and under-employed in Pakistan that the rich have to import foreign maids? Can’t they spent one-tenth of the $3500 on training a local woman and help create income source for a struggling Pakistani family? And interestingly, the Pakistani government which has not done any job creation, legally allows import of foreign workers.

    Recommend

  • Someone
    Feb 24, 2013 - 9:47AM

    Is there a shortage of people in Pakistan? Why on Earth would you need to spend so much money to get someone to come and get your house tidy?

    This has to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. For that much money, you might find educated people in Pakistan who wouldn’t mind becoming a maid.

    And if you still think you need to throw your money somewhere, pay for some kids education!

    Recommend

  • Ian
    Feb 24, 2013 - 11:05AM

    So assuming they work 5 days a week with 2 days off at 10 hours a day equates to 20 cents an hour. Whilst the Pinoy government gives it’s citizens”protection” the hourly rate should be increased to 40 cents an hour.

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  • Feb 24, 2013 - 12:02PM

    Why only one side is shown (the negative one), why not the positive side (story)?

    Is Tribune working on the payroll of Pak against elements?

    Recommend

  • Hussain
    Feb 24, 2013 - 12:49PM

    You can convert your work visa for POC with Rs 70,000. We give off our citizenship to pennies to the dime but charge Rs 400,000 in getting a foreign maid… oh my god great going Pakistan… surely Money can buy everything in Pakistan…

    Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Feb 24, 2013 - 12:54PM

    Grace has managed to obtain a Pakistan
    Origin Card, even though people
    usually have to marry a Pakistani
    citizen to get this card. “Pakistan is
    not such a strict country,” she said
    in a matter-of-fact tone.

    Very nice of Grace to say, “Pakistan is not strict” as I equate Pakistan to the “Wild Wild West”. Maybe we can ask Taliban to learn English and be productive part of the society next.

    Recommend

  • Mohammad
    Feb 24, 2013 - 12:55PM

    Philipino maids are highly trained..they will not only teach your kids manners, but also to the parents. Stop crying..who wants to work as a maid in Pakistan?

    Recommend

  • The Patriot
    Feb 24, 2013 - 2:11PM

    In under $400/month you can hire a LUMS/LSE/NUST/UET/IBA/GIKI English speaking graduate. Obviously without thet upfront Rs.350,000!Recommend

  • Donga Bonga
    Feb 24, 2013 - 6:51PM

    They get foreign maids because generally locals just dont want to work, are lazy, have loads of family issues, are not reliable with kids, have almost zero sense of hygeine, demand extra money and advance salary etc. with the lamest of excuses, steal clothes and whatever they can get their hands on and are unwilling to get trained! Again, this is generally what happens.

    The foreign maids are not angels either – coupled with their promiscuous behavior, but by and large they are more efficient and hygeine conscious than the locals. When these foreign maids leave their country, they are resigned to the fact that they will have to work at least 14 hours a day.

    Simply put, they are better workers in most of the cases. If i could afford one financially, i would definitely opt for one or two maybe!

    Recommend

  • jamin
    Feb 24, 2013 - 8:33PM

    pakistan local maids has nothing to offer,instead they will spoil your children.because they themselves has no good manner or even home training compare to international standard.they are too dirty.

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  • Raj
    Feb 24, 2013 - 9:25PM

    You guys hire foreign maids? Seems that a section of Pakistan is very rich.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Feb 24, 2013 - 11:34PM

    There is acute shortage of domestic workers in Pakistan. Honest, well mannered or trained persons done’t want to work house jobs. If you can afford it then Philipinos are the best. They are very nice to children and elderly. Try it, you will not regret it. Recommend

  • Dan
    Feb 25, 2013 - 12:10AM

    The Pakistanis don’t want maids, they want slaves. They cannot easily control a local who has family to return to. But, a female who cannot afford a plane ticket home is easy to control. The local courts are not going to side with a foreign women who can’t speak the local language, and could not afford a good lawyer if her life depended on it. Filipinas are easy to abuse and control. That is why they are popular.

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  • Kiran
    Feb 26, 2013 - 10:17AM

    Are these maids still allowed to come to Pakistan? Rumors were that they have put a ban on the import of the maids!

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