Juicy Business

ANTANANARIVO, April 22, 2011 (AFP) – Twenty Madagascan women who planned to work as maids in Saudi Arabia, were intercepted by police in Madagascar Friday, before they were able to board the plane, the government said. “We prevented these young girls from leaving because their paperwork wasn’t in order, notably they didn’t have contracts signed by the Public Service Ministry,” Population Minister Nadine Ramaroson said.

In late January the government put a temporary ban on any domestic workers going to work abroad. Since then only a tiny fraction of the requests submitted have been approved by the ministry, which examines them on a case-by-case basis.

The ban came in the wake of numerous cases of maids being abused, mostly in Lebanon, where at least 6,000 Madagscan women are in domestic employment, and more recently in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The 20 maids who were supposed to leave on Friday had been recruited by a Sri Lankan agency with a branch in Madagascar. They had signed up to work for two years in in Riyadh or Jeddah.

Two employees from the recruitment agency were stopped along with the maids, but no arrests were made.

“It’s a juicy business. The agency gets 50,000 dollars for se