I was returning recently from a work-related trip in London and stopped in Dubai for a few days. The flight I took back to Colombo had many housemaids and other humble Sri Lankan people who contribute so much to our national coffers through their hard work in the Gulf countries.
What I want to do, is relate an incident where a customs officer sexually harassed a woman working in the Gulf. When she opened her suitcase, he rudely rummaged through its contents and pulled out a pair of red frilly panties, which he held up in the air for all in the airport to see.Commenting to other customs officers he asked whether they thought that these were for the housemaid or to be sold.
He then pulled out another pair, this time grey and asked the woman if they were hers. The maid meekly replied that they belong to her. The customs officer then replied in a bawdy tone: “and you wear those panties in your village.”
Though she was not charged any duty, this incident where poor Sri Lankan housemaids are subjected to, is humiliating treatment by customs officers and should not be permitted. It is none of their business what a housemaid or other passengers wear. His comments are unacceptable. The government should take disciplinary action against such unprofessional and truly disgraceful behaviour, bearing in mind that the housemaid is contributing much more to the country than corrupt and vindictive customs officers and is indeed paying his salary in an indirect manner.
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