x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Maids use witchcraft on food to impress employers, police say

Police warn of an increase in domestic workers turning to witchcraft to take revenge on uncaring bosses.

DUBAI // Some maids are using a form of witchcraft, in which they mix their employer's food and drink with urine and menstrual blood, in a misguided effort to impress them, police said yesterday.

While the practice is not thought to be widespread, police say at least four incidents have been reported in Dubai so far this year.

Cases have included maids mixing nails, hair, blood and urine with food and stirring drinks with used underwear believing that by so doing they will be able to win the favour of and influence their employers. In some cases the maids have splashed urine across the entrances of various rooms in the house.

"We are always investigating such cases," said Lt Col Ahmed Al Merri, the head of CID. "The majority do it out of a belief that it will capture their employer's heart and make them pay extra incentives or get them gifts."

He said that the practice was not confined to any particular nationality or set of beliefs and that the women involved were usually charged with endangering the lives of others.

At the beginning of the month police arrested a maid from an unnamed Asian country who admitted mixing her urine with the food and drink of the Emirati family who employed her at their home in Al Rashidiya.

The family became suspicious of the strange smell and taste of their food and drinks and reported the case to police. The maid confessed to carrying out the practice throughout the four months she had been employed by the family.

"She also led us to the urine bottle which she had hidden in her room," said Lt Col Al Merri. "As part of the belief, the urine needs to be stored for one week before being used to be effective."

He said that in such cases police tended to rely on confessions from the maids, but that in others samples of food were sent for forensic testing.

"In such cases we find really terrible things in the food," he said.

While the majority of witchcraft related cases police dealt with were of maids motivated by the desire to impress their employers, there were also cases in which they were seeking revenge for poor treatment.

"There are some employers who deal with their maids in inhuman and harsh manner and make them work under the heat and for many hours. The maids start developing silent hatred and as a consequence they try to either abuse the children or carry out black magic, " said Lt Col Al Merri.

He said hair, blood and urine had also been found in children's milk.

Giving an example of the cruelty of some employers, Lt Col Al Merri recalled a case of an Arab woman in her 40s who lodged a complaint that her maid had stolen Dh30,000 in jewellery and cash before running away.

When police tracked down the maid - who was from an unnamed African country and in her 30s - they found bruises and burn marks all over her body from where her employer had abused her. He said investigations showed the maid had not stolen anything.

wissa@thenational.ae