News / USA

Assault Cases Focus Attention on Maids' Vulnerability

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund, right, with his attorney Benjamin Brafman, is arraigned Monday, May 16, 2011, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund, right, with his attorney Benjamin Brafman, is arraigned Monday, May 16, 2011, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York.

Multimedia

Peter Fedynsky

In recent weeks, two high-profile former bankers have been arrested on charges of sexually assaulting hotel maids in New York City. The cases highlight a danger faced by maids, many of whom are seen as vulnerable, poor and anonymous women. Dozens of hotel maids lined the sidewalk to jeer former International Monetary Fund chairman Dominique Strauss-Kahn as he arrived in court Monday for arraignment on charges of sexual assault.

They shouted, “Shame on you” as he exited.  The maids came in solidarity with the alleged victim.  One of them, Biviana Vasquez, said they have a basic demand. “We need respect and justice.  That is all what we are looking for, because we are working to survive like everybody else," she said.

On May 29, New York’s posh Pierre Hotel was the scene of another alleged sexual assault involving the former chairman of Egypt’s Bank of Alexandria, Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar.  He too was arrested on charges of abusing a maid.

Many hotel maids in America are immigrants.  Strauss-Kahn’s accuser is a widowed 32-year-old from Guinea raising a 15-year-old daughter.  

Dorchen Leidholdt of Sanctuary for Families, a group that helps abused women, paints this portrait of the alleged victim based on her frequent meetings with Guinean women. “If she is typical, she would be somebody who is extraordinarily hard-working, who is doing everything to support herself, and her daughter, and very likely also sending money back to family members in Guinea to help them as well," she said.

Sanctuary for Families Counselor Mariama Diallo says predators often exploit fears that immigrant maids have of losing their jobs if they report an assault. “The criminal is going to think like that, ‘Oh, if I do this to her, maybe she does not know how to make a police report, maybe she is undocumented and she will not come forward because of her immigration status to report," she said. "Or maybe, because she is so needy she will just let me do that.’"

The vulnerability of maids behind closed doors is an issue being seized by hotel worker unions to help protect them against harassment and assault by guests.  Security specialist Anthony Roman says hotel management can do things to help maids. “They involve technology, management procedures and protocols, and good security management.  Those are things unions can fight for in terms of hotel workers and other domestic positions," he said.

One of the proposed technical solutions is a panic button, an electronic device that would send an alarm in case of trouble.

Whatever the outcome in court, the Strauss-Kahn and Omar cases have focused attention on the plight of hotel maids, who hope the attention will result in better protection against dangerous guests.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid