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Maids and care of children

Courtesy: Arab News

(November 04, Jeddah, Sri Lanka Guardian) This refers to Abdulateef Al-Mulhim’s piece on the Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek who has been sentenced to death for killing an infant in her care (Oct. 31).

The plight of Nafeek as well as that of the parents of the infant is indeed very sad. Many parents in the Arab world in particular forget that the maid is not responsible for childcare.

It is the duty of the parents — and it is in their interest and that of the child — to look after the children themselves.

We were all children once and, one day, our children will become adults. The way they treat their parents, their own children, and us has its foundations in the way we treat our children from birth, through their childhood and into adulthood.

Islam holds children to be both vulnerable and dependent, and therefore in need of protection — spiritually, physically and materially. Consequently, Islamic law sets out a series of rules and guidelines that parents should abide by to provide their children with the love and support that ensures their development within the faith which cannot be expected from a foreign maid. Both parents must be involved in the children’s upbringing.

All children need to be nourished emotionally as well as physically. They need to be hugged, kissed, and to experience affection, and they need to understand that their parents love them deeply and these can only be expected from the parents and not from a maid.

The Muslim woman should never forget that the mother’s responsibility in bringing up the children and forming their character is greater than that of the father, because children tend to be closer to their mother and spend more time with her; she knows all about their behavioral, emotional and intellectual development during their childhood and the difficult years of adolescence.

According to a study released recently by Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, 40 percent of Saudi working mothers leave their children in the care of their maids, 42 percent with their parents and 18 percent leave them in nurseries or day-care centers.

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