Pakistan, a nation raised by ‘maids’ and ‘aayas’

Published: February 2, 2014

My train of thoughts came to a sudden halt when a child fell off the jumping castle and ran straight to his maid for comfort.

During my last visit to Pakistan, I happened to attend a three-year-old’s birthday party. As the birthday boy belonged to the elite class of a capital city, the extravagance that met my eyes as I walked through the magnificent rust and copper gates, did not dazzle me at all.

I was, however,  surprised to see a group of young girls, aged 10 to 15, dressed in obvious hand-me-downs standing near a bunch of little kids playing pat-a-cake. These girls matched the kids around them, both in number and jocundity. My host told me that the girls were the ‘maids’ of the invited kids and were responsible for their care.

Unable to overcome the separation anxiety, I held onto my daughter’s hand and quickly made my way to the aristocratically designed drawing room whose air was filled with the scent of expensive perfumes worn by ‘mums’. The designer hand bags, clothes and high heels along with freshly manicured nails were all augmenting the exuberance of the atmosphere. This was all starkly different to the kids’ birthday parties I had attended abroad where even the wealthiest of parents would usually be dressed up in casual clothes and thongs ready to spend the day in the play pen with the kids.

After a good deal of discussion about the latest trends and styles and chalking out the plans for the next committee party and dars, it was time to talk about the kids which straight away led to the conversation about their primary care givers – the maids.

While a few mothers boasted about having found the most perfect maid, most of them seemed quite annoyed with the ‘lazy bones’ they had to deal with every day. I inferred, from what I heard, that the ratio of the number of maids to the kids in a house should not be less than one and an efficient maid was one who could cater to all the needs of a child – bathing, feeding, playing, toileting with minimal input from the mothers.

Feeling a little left out, I took my daughter outside to join the kids who were then busy striking the piñata. As I stood there, I noticed the group of maids, sprightly discussing a whole heap of adolescence issues, from body image to boyfriends, oblivious of the toddlers they were carrying, who were all ears. While I commended their fluency in Urdu and knowledge of a few interspersed words of English, most of them displayed a complete lack of basic manners.

However, to my utmost astonishment, one of them seemed familiar with the concept of ‘naughty corner’ although she was unable to execute it on this mischievous child who was too sure of his superiority to her and thus, completely refused to obey the command. For the rest of the evening, I saw these girls feeding the kids, changing the diapers, rocking the babies while mums remained engrossed with discussing the likely outcome of a soap opera and the caloric count of the sumptuous food before them.

I had never come across such a form of procrastination before.

Just then, I felt a sudden cringe and a strong sense of inferiority as I spotted a Siamese cat, close to the outdoor heater, licking her four fur ball kittens while they all suckled at her. The supreme creation of nature was proving itself, yet again, to be the only mammal who would hand over the care of its offspring to someone else, that too so clearly incapable and inadequate for the role.

It was heart rending to see that a role that required first aid and CPR skills, a meticulous police check and certificate in early childhood education abroad, was here assigned to immature country girls who were hardly capable of looking after themselves. This clearly in itself was a form of brazen child abuse. The fastest phase of a child’s brain growth, the critical time for the acquisition of language, manners and basic life skills all seemed at stake to me.

Babies are born with an innate trust for the primary care giver and the goal of early childhood is to strengthen this bond of trust through close interaction and mutual play. The quality of this bond has a profound impact upon inter personal relationships, ability to trust, and self-esteem and stress management later in life. Many parents who struggle to abridge the child-parent gap when faced with a rebellious adolescent are the ones who inadvertently created it during early childhood.

My train of thoughts came to a sudden halt when a child fell off the jumping castle and ran straight to his maid for comfort. To many, it was an ordinary scene but for me, it was exhibition of an extremely unusual behaviour signifying a relative lack of trust in a mother and confusion in role identification. In a state of sheer disbelief, I went to take a seat in a corner. As I sat there, I overheard a mother saying to another,

“We are only considering Aitchison College for our boy, don’t want him to mix up with the middle class, you know.”

From a distance, I could see her son sitting in the lap of his maid, trying to scoop out a portion of chocolate fudge cake from her plate with both of his hands, simultaneously.

A sarcastic smile crept up on my face. Oh the irony…

Kiran Zafar

Kiran Zafar

A graduate of King Edward Medical College and member of the Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health and Advanced Fellowship Trainee of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, she currently resides in Queensland and tweets as @drkiranzafar (twitter.com/drkiranzafar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Muhammad Saim

    Because you cant afford a maid in Vancouver so every one else shouldn’t also keep one.

    P.S. No am not for child abuse, you can be a good master by giving them healthy diet, health care, and education. Keeping a maid or servant is no evil.Recommend

  • Sana

    Very well written and i would say you have pictured the future of this country in a very short period. And it is not just the elite class but this disease is spreading amongst the middle class too… I myself belong to upper middle class but have never ever thought of getting a maid for my daughter….that is the worst thing a parent could do to a child. Recommend

  • Muhammad Ahmad

    Could not one argue that the aaya/maid system is an ingenious solution to the ever-widening socio-economic divide between classes? Where else can Pakistan’s 1% mingle so freely with the ‘middle classes’. If handled correctly, would it not teach our toddlers empathy and the realization that other people suffer with problems they themselves are not aware of?

    No matter which lens you choose to examine this phenomenon with, Miss. Kiran Zafar, it gives you absolutely no right whatsoever to pass judgement on the WHOLE of the Pakistani nation. Let us not forget that it is the nation you abandoned in search of fairer winds or perhaps it was events not in your hands that made you forsake these shores, but to condemn them from a thousand miles away?? Hints at something entirely different, if you ask me.Recommend

  • Shaazma

    With all due respect, what a typiclally Pakistan-sucks-and-america-is-the-best’ attitude the author is trying to get across. I have brought up 3 children in Karachi and kept
    Maids. My maid would call me ‘baji’ and that is the same term my
    Kids would use to address the maid. Just because of a bunch of useless superficial women you cannot categorize them all as one. I don’t want to go and on and on on this but as people with Pakistani origins lets not look stupid and bash our own people and country up. Let’s use this time to bring out the positives and not the negatives. Let’s prove to be something more than a b c d’s so in awe of the west. Recommend

  • Bushra

    Do not agree with the Title…Not true for the whole nation,yet thought provoking.Recommend

  • Amna Najeeb

    Pakistan is definitely not a nation raised by maids. My mom never needed a maid in upbringing us five. And now I don’t need maids either for my two year old son, I don’t even ask someone else in the house to help me out with him. He is my responsibility not someone else’s or maids’. And im sure every mother thinks the same way and is incumbent to her duties. What you have seen and observed is minority, not the whole nation. That’s why Pakistani children are more cultivated and well behaved than children of other countries.Recommend

  • Stranger

    The first line is disturbing. 10 to 15 year olds…. Working as maids or nannies. Don’t u have child labour laws in pak.Recommend

  • I_am_the_best_parent_around

    A very well written article – the only problem is that it lacks accuracy. Whilst it is true that a large part of the affluent Pakistan have maid and aayas to look after their kids, it is very easy to be smug and all too self righteous about being in the west and looking after your kids yourself.

    I live in the UK and both my wife and I work. Whilst we are at work, our kids are looked after by a nanny. And we are not unique or different in any way! Just because the nanny is better dressed and speaks english, we feel we are doing a better job than the average Pakistani mum employing an aaya. Most our friends from Pakistan who live and work here have similar arrangements. If I was in Pakistan, I too would have an aaya or maid for the kids. But at least my kids would have their Dada, Dadi, Nana, Nani. Chacha, chachi etc there too. They would have a much richer cultural upbringing.

    These aaya raised kids have much better values than the kids being raised by parents in the West. They have much better family values. I am not sure what the author is trying to imply here.

    Ever wonder why teenage pregnancies is not as big a problem in Pakistan as it is in the west??

    The article would have made a lot more sense if it challeged child labour and the fact that these teenage maids are not at school! Recommend

  • rizwan

    Lol…… A big problem of burger class of pakistan is ” what they see, they consider it part of culture”. Hope she will visit the rest of country soon….Recommend

  • SamQ

    The author lives in Australia and here thongs mean “flip flops” or Hawaii chappals as people call them in Pakistan. @sarah: Recommend

  • Arab Girl

    Very refreshing to see this topic finally addressed. I myself am not Pakistani and I wasn’t aware that that’s the situation in Pakistan I can only speak for my own experience in the Arab countries. In KSA a survey was conducted that showed 80% of families have a maid in the house and I see the results of that just as you have written.
    There was a friday sermon I listened to over here in the Middle East that said there’s a lack of love and compassion shown from parents to their child wonder why…seems we have maids for that. If every time your child needs comforting the maid is there, surely indifference will occur over time among the “loving” parents. Recommend

  • Akhtar Wahab

    Such a misleading article especially the heading. …it may represent only 1% of pakistanis….99% people are so poor even to afford two times meals….how can they afford to keep ayaas …..I am really surprised at the ignorant author. ….how somebody can write such a thing without knowing the facts……just for writing sake. …sadRecommend

  • I_am_the_best_parent_around

    I think the author needs to spend a little more time in Pakistan to see how the system works here. Parents spend a lot more (quality and quantity) time with their kids. These kids have much stronger values than the shallow/hollow desi kids being raised in the West. There is a reason why these kids are referred to as ABCD or BBCDs (American/British born confused desis). I have been working in London for the past 12 years and can see a start difference in seriousness towards life between the desi kids born and brought up in the west and the ones that travelled across for their university degrees and decided to find jobs and stay back.

    I find it a little disgusting that you have formed an opinion about 200 million people based on a birthday party where some goof-for-nothing friends of yours, clearly not capable of being decent mothers were present. I guess you might want to research a little more before you form another such opinion. Thanks. Recommend

  • Rabel Syeda

    I myself is a mother of 3 do 100% agree to the author.u need to read her articlr agai .yes west has nannies hence the reason there kids leave them at the age of 18 and ild parents are left to lok after themselves. The author has not defended west or even mentioned it.we as muslim and asian parents di expect a lot from our children but we also like to copy west and we are failing. Every other woman in west works therefore need a babysitter or nannyin Pakistan women dont work and still need a maid for their own flesh and blood to be looked after. @Unknown: Recommend

  • SamQ

    Interesting article though the tone of it is too condescending and sanctimonious for my taste. Like the author I live in Australia too and am familiar with both societies so I know that nothing is ever so bad in one place and completely perfect in another. Expats, in my opinion, tend to have this tendency of criticising everything that they left behind. Perhaps it’s their way of coping with nostalgia or perhaps it’s their way of assimilating in their new environment. Whatever it maybe, I agree in part with her that leaving your child in the care of an ill-educated teenager regardless of social class (if one believes in that sort of rubbish) is not ideal. However, I do wonder if Dr. Zafar has ever set foot in a typical child care centre in Australia (which she might’ve as it’s pretty clear that she is a working mum and to afford a nanny in Australia one has to be a multi-millionaire, not just a doctor) which are over-run with girls in their teens or barely out of with basic TAFE Certificates! Most child care centres are full to capacity and the ratio of child care worker per child is ridiculous. Their wages are shockingly low and we have constant reminders of neglect in child care centres in the news. Having said that (and not to commit the same crime of sounding judgmental) I must add, that life here demands that most women have to go back to work not by choice but by circumstance since most families cannot survive on a single income. Leaving your child in the care of anyone (be it a mum/mum-in-law, nanny, day care etc) is never an easy decision and one must always have empathy for those who do so if their motives are unselfish and just. However, if it’s the case of “The nanny diaries” (a fabulous movie on this subject) then my heart goes out to those poor children who are brought into this world by people who clearly have messed up priorities!! Recommend

  • Ameera

    I think most of what this article represents is untrue and biased generalization. Well I wasn’t raised by ‘ayas’ and ‘maids’ and I am part of Pakistani nation. One could expect short sighted thinking from a foreign visitor. The elite class mentioned here constitute a thin percentage in our society. Not everyone can afford maid or daycares.
    I think this article is a weak representation of our society. We are a nation raised by devoted mothers.Recommend

  • Dr.Sadaf

    @Samrah Azam:
    so true samrah i m wondering the same Recommend

  • Tehseen

    @Nobody:
    The joke was that you dont want your kids mixing with middle class yet they are raised by lower class….hence the irony!Recommend

  • Nida

    I see the authors point and she highlights some very pertinent issues. For one, a large number of these ‘maids’ are young girls (under 18) and are being deprived of their access to education. Secondly, they are severely underpaid. There is nothing wrong with hiring domestic help, especially for working parents, but please at least treat them like humans and pay them well, and if you can afford to, pay for their children’s education too. Don’t force their kids into working in your household and depriving them of their right to education.

    Also, no one has mentioned the role the father needs to play. In Pakistan, women assume the role of the only caregiver with no help at all from the father, and hence many women feel they need to hire domestic help. If the father also helped with the child by changing nappies or putting them to bed or feeding them, not to mention spending other quality time with them, it will have a positive impact on the child’s development.

    I find it really amusing when stay at home mothers hire domestic help – if they had a little more help from their husbands, they really wouldn’t be forced to. Everyone here mentions and criticises the west, but when both parents are working, it’s what you have to do. Also, the childcare available in the west is far more superior as even to be a primary school teacher, you need certification and police verification – you are taught first aid, child psychology, etc. If anything, your child has a more positive experience since they are around trained psychologists who understand the care the child needs, not to mention early education which many Pakistani mothers ignore. The child also has close interaction with others from a very young age and this enables them to develop positive traits like consideration, sharing etc.Recommend

  • Abida Farid

    I appreciate the psychological aspect of the issue BUT Sorry i object with the title, elite is minority and minority is not a nation;but just a group……….Recommend

  • saddaf

    the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world… i hope this write up gives a wake up call to many… Recommend

  • Nabiha

    I certainly don’t happen to be a mom but I’ve noticed the same dilemma myself n couldn’t have put it in better words. You’ve addressed the issue very well.Recommend

  • Nafies

    Not sure how much of the blog is meant as a backlash at ‘the elite’ and how much of it is concerned with child care. In terms of the latter the points made are worth consideration. I also hate seeing little girls taking care of kids not much older than themselves. This IS child labour. In terms of her critique of the ‘elite’ it is no more than an exaggerated and and unfounded observation based on just one birthday party. And To compare a choice of party to those at the West is saying the West does everything right (I am definitely not one for wearing ‘thongs’ to a party regardless of how casual it should be. It may be the norm in Australia but hope Pakistanis rise above that!). This is the inferiority complex one observes amongst our people far too often, no matter where we have studied or lived we still strive to emulate!! Anyway, I digress. I believe everyone should be entitled to celebrating as they wish. If one has money they should indulge. I think the writer is on to something good but would suggest in the future to keep focus on the area she has commendable expertise in and to avoid discrediting herself by losing focus, and displaying jealousy towards those who just choose to live in comfort. From the comments one can observe that what this blog has actually done is have people focus on the “elite issue” rather than the more viable issue of childcare. pity. Recommend

  • fariha

    Pakistan is full of contradictions . I think it stems from our lack of insight in general of things . We are quick to adopt every thing without it pro and cons. Little to we appreciate that ultimately we are responsible for what type of upbringing we give to our children. If we employ minors to the job of a mother we are only fooling ourselves. let’s not forget that it is also unjust on these preteen nanny girls.these girls are themselves at a big disadvantage . They loose touch with the reality of their reasons for working and what they see around them . I have always kept nannies in their mid thirties who have their own children so that they are able to patiently address to my infants but it would always humour me when based on their previous experience they would ask me why I don’t go shopping for fun and why I don’t wear so and so designers clothes.
    The Prophet p.b.u.h said that a man marries woman for four reason:her beauty ,money,family reputation or religion. He said that the best among you our those who marry religion. And we all know how much Islam upholds motherhood. As I downside to my being in this stage of my life where I am forced to share my bundle of joy with another woman I always feel jealous of them. I tell them that and that I am handing you my most precious belonging in this world. And only a mother can understand this as she has left her loved ones in another’s care so she may provide for their needs.
    We are responsible for the mental health of these children we bring to our homes . Don’t employ minors to save a little bit of money and in exchange damage two children. Please do justiceRecommend

  • Tazeen Shahid

    Ok I have read it and find it very judgemental. I am not saying that I would want my kids to be bathe, fed etc by anyone who is not related to them but still it doesn’t give me a right to judge someone who thinks otherwise.

    We love to judge people just to feel good about ourselves.Recommend

  • beenish naeem

    kiran
    good sharing!Recommend

  • fari

    Very interesting article and for the people criticizing the word “thong” … thats flip flops … CHAPPAL lol Recommend

  • ayla

    It”s and bits of this article do summarize to a ‘bitter fact’ – but I still believe that down right calling it an ‘elite class’ problem is quite hypocritical.I always remember being taken care by nanny’s, maybe not when it came to being fed or bathed and that’s probably the reason why your immune system works better than those who were eating whatever was fed by their maids. I remember seeing my parents having a great social life while spending the best of their times with us. The whole idea about having a ‘help’ is not gossiping about your fat-free-bodies-and-oh-so-pretty-diamonds, but also to involve yourself in other activities rather than cleaning poops (which of course is a part of the deal, when decided to take the responsibility of having a child) – Again it falls down to managing and handling your priorities your own way.. The fact that a child ran to his ‘maid’ for comfort- kinda makes her throw away her ‘typical’ mentality (the write that is). He spends time with the maid and feels that he has that connection which is natural.- I’m sure late at night he likes cuddling up with his parents – cause he’s clearly been raised by them as well:) Keeping a balance is maybe what is missing in this article and WHY the concept of having a ‘maid’ should be an advantage rather than a ‘society issue’. The problem is when those handbags and high heels interfere with their motherhood – Which i’m sure it doesn’t and no one should judge. The comparison with the simplicity of the west and ‘shocking’ east for the author – should also go for down another debate.Recommend

  • Fauzia Sarmad

    The women the author has talked about represent a small fraction of our society.There are thousands of doctors,engineers and other qualified women who sacrifice their career just for the sake of children and family.i am a computer engineer and similarly my sisters are MBA’s and software engineers who have dedicated their lives ti their parents,in laws and children Recommend

  • fariha

    Pakistan is full of contradictions . I think it stems from our lack of insight in general of things . We are quick to adopt every thing without it pro and cons. Little to we appreciate that ultimately we are responsible for what type of upbringing we give to our children. If we employ minors to the job of a mother we are only fooling ourselves. let’s not forget that it is also unjust on these preteen nanny girls.these girls are themselves at a big disadvantage . They loose touch with the reality of their reasons for working and what they see around them . I have always kept nannies in their mid thirties who have their own children so that they are able to patiently address to my infants but it would always humour me when based on their previous experience they would ask me why I don’t go shopping for fun and why I don’t wear so and so designers clothes.
    The Prophet p.b.u.h said that a man marries woman for four reason:her beauty ,money,family reputation or religion. He said that the best among you our those who marry religion. And we all know how much Islam upholds motherhood. As I downside to my being in this stage of my life where I am forced to share my bundle of joy with another woman I always feel jealous of them. I tell them that and that I am handing you my most precious belonging in this world. And only a mother can understand this as she has left her loved ones in another’s care so she may provide for their needs.
    We are responsible for the mental health of these children we bring to our homes . Don’t employ minors to save a little bit of money and in exchange damage two children. Please do justice .Recommend

  • Anon

    @Unknown: Yes, the nanny culture is predominantly alien in the west. Being an educated and working, professional mother of a young child – I can say categorically that none of my family or friends in the west have nannies. It’s a well-known fact that this trend is much more common in Asian/middle-eastern countries with nannies/ayahs being hired on low incomes and being expected to take responsibility of raising children that they are not formally trained to do as part of their day-to-day responsibilities. I’ve seen many occasions where my own family members children, in Karachi, etc. have a closer bond to their ayahs as compared to their own parents who spend more time socialising without them. You are also missing the point that the author is making about the ‘naughty corner’ – this is not about whether or not the ‘naughty corner’ is a well-known form of discipline or not, rather, the point is that a young adolescent Ayah is being given the responsibility to control/discipline the child that should be done by the parent – it is clear that children are conditioned to not respond to any form of authority when given by their Ayah…but why should the parent’s care right? Their kid doesn’t seem to be their problem!Recommend

  • Maheen

    It is actually similar to how wealthy, white Americans treated African-Americans as their slaves in Southern plantations. They allowed African-American women to do the “dirty work” (toileting, feeding, tolerating tantrums, etc.) while establishing a system of unjust racial, economic, and cultural segregation. It is sickening that such attitudes are found among Muslims, who are taught the equality of all human beings. These elite Pakistanis, with their arrogance and injustice toward the middle and lower classes, are a blight and an insult to a great nation. There needs to be a wide-ranging educational campaign to end such attitudes across the country. Recommend

  • UmarKhalid

    Living and raised up in West made me think that writer is totally unaware of situation in Western rotten society. here major of parents send their kids (even few months old) to day care where they only learn how to celebrate easter or how to fight with their own parents.

    Which in result shows that around 90% of parents live alone in their old-age their loved one little feets kick them out in result that they dropped them in daycare. Recommend

  • Elite on Elite

    Its interesting to see the Pakistani elite debate childcare dynamics of the Pakistani elite. Its not like “nanny diaries” where an aya can show up and give her point of view while talking to the nanny cam.
    Unfortunately the article can only be one sided but nevertheless rings true Recommend

  • Sara

    A good piece of writing. Enjoyed itRecommend

  • Sarah Mansoor

    First of all, I think the issue raised here is a genuine one- are children being neglected by the elite mothers in Pakistan due to the comfort provided to them by underage and underpaid aayahs? It is commendable that the author and all others on this page are concerned and want to voice their opinions on how to solve the problem.
    However, I must point out that the real problem here – as with any other resource – is using it irresponsibly. I have two children,and was forced to go back to work in order to put my husband through college. I have always had help (read ayaahs) to ensure that I can enjoy quality time with my children. I bathe, feed, and supervise my children all day as soon as they are back from school.
    Does the ayaah tidy up the house? Yes. Does she put away the laundry? Yes. Does she organise the playroom? Yes. Does she supervise them at birthday parties? Yes. Does that make me a neglectful mother? NO.
    I have been maidless (not out of choice) at times, and I have realised that house chores tire you, exhaust you, and put you in a terrible mood.There’s no harm in finding help. Each woman has her own set or priorities. Regardless of whether you’re in the East or West, and whether or not you choose to hire help, it only comes down to your priorities.
    It is highly unprofessional to observe 20 or so women at one particular event for 2-3 hours, and using that to form a judgment on THE ENTIRE NATION.
    I believe a little more responsibility is required of you, Dr Kiran.Recommend

  • Shafak D

    Absolutely disagree! Starting from the title itself… It would help to carry out an analysis of the Pakistani society before calling it a nation raised by maids and ayaas. In May 2013 The World Bank reported that 60 percent of the population in Pakistan lives below the poverty line. We are talking about people not having access to clean food and water, let alone a ‘maid’. So the writers notion calling Pakistan a society being raised by nannies and ayaas definitely goes out the window!

    The writer has carried out an analysis of only a fraction of the population of Pakistan and it sure is restricted to her experience at one birthday party where she might have spent 3 to 4 hours and decided to judge the whole nation on that basis.

    Going on to her comparing this scenario to the western world… well, she has her analysis based on her own judgments and limited experience again. Everyday news in the USA is filled with child abuse issues in day cares or at home while the child is in the care of baby sitters. Coming to baby sitters.. not all baby sitters in USA are certified or trained. We are talking about 14 or 15 year next door school going girls.

    I could go on and on about comparing the family systems in the west to Pakistan but that is not the point of my comment. Child abuse and neglect is prevalent in every corner of the world. Some because of the lack of supervision of parents and some genuinely circumstantial. It would be ABSOLUTELY WRONG to stereotype a nation or even a particular class of people on the basis of limited personal experiences.

    Just FYI I am a Pakistani by birth and was raised there, moved to the USA at 24, so I have seen both worlds. Not biased against any country or nation.Recommend

  • pro bono publico

    The problem of employing under-age children for household chores will only go away once Pakistan improves its economy and this its education. Brutal as it seems but these suffering kids supplement the low earnings of their families.
    The first step is defeat the feudal lords and the dynasties that have their stranglehold on the nation’s vitals. It is a long and arduous journey but it needs honest workers.Recommend

  • Gul Khan

    Author should check level of poverty in Pakistan before generalizing insanely.just looking at your closed circle which happens to afford maids and ayas does not mean this is true or full picture of Pakistan . i guess may be less than 0.001% . for that minority class , article is fine.Recommend

  • Arshiya

    @Unknown:

    As a mom of 2 little kids under 6 years old living in the USA, I can tell you that nannies are few and far between, a luxury or necessity for those working mothers who have no alternative and no family nearby to look after their kids.
    Sure you will find videos of trained nannies abusing their role on YouTube, just as you will hear of doctors who are guilty of malpractice and teachers who abuse their students. That’s not the point, the point is here we don’t just hand off child rearing to any young teenager so we can carry on our social lives uninterrupted. And the criteria to let someone be trusted with our kids is higher too, education and experience bekng most important.
    I feel very sad for the future of the elite pakistani child. Another failure of the Pakistani society.

    ArshiyaRecommend

  • Hammad khan

    Sadly and unfortunately fully agree with your observations. I cannot comprehend as how can I child be raised or even fed by a maid !. What do you expect bondage. Etween larents and kids Recommend

  • SP

    Living in Australia visiting Pakistan and attending one party suddenly gives the author a clear view as two what goes on in this country. The whole article is false and highly exaggerated and the only one “looking” down on anyone was the author. So much so that she decided to capture her thoughts in a blog to give others this false reality so others like her sitting in the comfort of their outside view having abandoned their own country get to judge the people who stayed here pay Pakistani taxes and educate their kids in Pakistani schools. It’s no ones fault if they do well have money and can afford help actually it says a lot to have done well in this country and these girls that they employ are not slaves they r employed looked after and fed much better than they could be in their own homes their families r helped looked after and they r employed by choice.. Furthermore I’ve attending about 100 of these birthday parties and I can absolutely say that absolutely nothing like this happens. If not every single mother but more than 90 percent of mothers are completely in sync with their child. These r good mothers hard working mothers just because they have help and money does not make them bad. There are bad mothers everywhere but to completely run all the mothers of Pakistan off a cliff is just insane. The views provided by the author are completely exaggerated. And to call the whole nation raised by maids and aayas.. Well I just want to laugh! I will, Hahaha! Seriously?? Recommend

  • mo

    @Unknown:
    U have all the right to criticise but plz try to admit tht our mothers have lost their motherhood in the midst of glamour, money and social circle. Trained or untrained maids….mothers have a duty to raise their children. Merely giving birth and handing your child to a maid is irresponsible attitude.Recommend

  • Mujtaba

    You indeed have a perfect sense of story telling, you are a born story teller !Recommend

  • Tabish

    Very easy to write this stuff. If given an opportunity I am sure she will be doing the same thing in Australia.She is talking about 1% of the entire country. Time for her to watch “rich kids of Beverly hills”.Recommend

  • Unknown

    @Unknown:
    Nannies in the West are a luxury available only to the upper class. They are reasonably well-paid and are neither illiterate nor dependent on their employers for basic rights. Children of the middle class are mostly in daycares or preschool or some form of group care. What you definitely do NOT see in the West is nannies for moms who do not work, no matter how rich they are. I did not get a sense that the well-to-do women the author described in her article are working women. In general, mothers in the West are expected to be intimately involved in raising their children regardless of their socioeconomic class. A stay-at-home mother who employs a full-time nanny would be looked down upon in the West.Recommend

  • Mahwish

    It’s interesting how many people are quick to criticise the author and the content. It must stem from insecurity because we are all aware that what the author states is 100% true. Just because they come from a medical background does not mean that they lack the intellect or knowledge to speak on such a simple matter. I can’t understand how anyone in their right mind would allow a 15 year old to look after their 2 year old?! Someone with no accredited childcare education or training aside from the little bits of ‘experience’ they rely so heavily on. Parents (and I say parents not mothers) have to put her children first and spend as much time as they can. I don’t understand how pakistani society has the privilege of having cooks, cleaners and gardeners but even so require a maid? One issue is that its so cheap to hire maids but wouldn’t the wage rate also be a worrying factor? Mothers and fathers should equally spend a great deal of time with their children. Most pakistani men cringe at the sight of changing their children which I find utterly shocking. It isn’t just a mother’s job, a father equally shares half the genetics but then claim its a ‘woman’s job’, which brings me to the next point that women in the west juggle a great deal of work but their husbands/partners also share in the household chores, cooking, cleaning etc which once again our pakistani male counterparts have an ego over. Maybe if both partners shared duties there would be no need to hire maids. Of course I speak for Nuclear families and cannot generalise to all family types. To conclude there is more than enough time to care for your young if you work collectively with your partner and effectively prioritise.Recommend

  • @Unknown

    @Unknown:

    Very well written and highlights a growing and important trend that in my opinion is quite worrying. However, it is a great shame that the writer shows such a lack of humanity and concern towards the ‘young girls aged 10 to 15‘ who are basically children themselves from poverty stricken backgrounds.

    While I commended their fluency in Urdu and knowledge of a few interspersed words of English, most of them displayed a complete lack of basic manners‘, and ‘immature country girls who were hardly capable of looking after themselves‘ are few examples of a patronising and snobbish attitude. Recommend

  • H

    The writer has a strong point here. Early five years of a child growing is crucial. It is the time when child’s personality develops. Instead of the maid to console the kid, it should be the mother to console the kid.
    Today’s mother want everything like job, kids and there own rest time. Having a kid means a mother has to scarification her needs to fulfil the child’s needs. If ur child is in trouble then everything else is meaning less.
    I think west is more abusive to their kids then the east as u never know when they leave their kids to daycare centre what harm can come to them there or they leave their kids at home alone as its kids sleeping time and go for outing.
    The key of this article which I think is that a child is the responsibility of the mother not the maid. In absence of the mother in case shes gone out for studies, job or kitty parties if a mishap comes to the child, then the mother cannot blame the maid coz it would be of no use.
    I have read so many articles on child abuse at day care centres. Another article of a child missing when her parents went for dinner. Then the Chinese CCTV video the two year old toddle killed by a truck. Especially in dubai, kid fell down from terrace. Even maid killed the child. A man killed 100 children in Pakistan, I don’t remember the year though. Kids get kidnaped at stores. It’s not a nice world outside.
    May Allah protect our kids from mishaps but its mothers duty to be there and present at all the time on her toes. The kid should be the priority.Recommend

  • Hooria

    @Unknown:
    I do share you opinion that Pakistan as a nation is not being brought up by maids and ayas.. Like the author herself clarifies in the beginning that she was attending a birthday party of an elite, do maids and ayas were bound to be present. The majority of Pakistani kids are brought up by stay at home mothers or grandmothers, something which is an unaffordable luxury in the west where a working mother has to put her child in a day care. As a mother of two, I would rather have a maid/aya for my kids nd stay close by than leave them in day cares and be miles awayRecommend

  • Nobody

    @Mina:
    Thong is also a type of flip flop, footwear for men and women both.
    Why do the minds of Pakistanis always go toward vulgarity….also, underwear isn’t as scary as we may think. Recommend

  • Nobody

    @sarah:
    I don’t think you do either. It’s underwear, AND can also be a type of flip flop. Recommend

  • Enn

    @Sarah:
    People in the west throw their kids into day care because they need to work as they don’t all live the life of Riley!!Recommend

  • Nobody

    @Iamthebestparent_around:
    I find it equally disgusting that you just painted every foreign born desi kid with the same brush, yet you criticize the author for painting 200 million people the same way.
    Pot, meet kettle.
    I’m a foreign born desi kid and I’m neither shallow nor hollow. You do not know every single foreign born child and living in London for 12 years does not mean you know everything about every desi child there either. I find your generalizations offensive as would most foreign born desi children.
    As far as the ABCD OR BBCD labels, most foreign born kids couldn’t care less about such ridiculous labels the same way Pakistani born FOBs shouldn’t care about being labeled either. Recommend

  • hussain

    Sad but true… Recommend

  • Sara

    @Nida Amir:
    You misunderstand her then, as she is talking about an upper class society. If you were working part-time with maids to help you, you are very much part of the middle or working class which is now becoming scarce in Pakistan. It’s pointing out the extremes of classes in the culture, and the sheer hypocrisy of it all.Recommend

  • Syeda Arooj

    Truth well defined but I don’t think Pakistan is a nation raised by ayas and maids :) correction required here. Indeed there are some but like a salt in flour . I’m currently residing in US and this nation is definitely raised by nannies not us :)Recommend

  • Zara

    Australian Thongs or New Zealand Jandals are the same as Pakistani chapals,Recommend

  • Asma Mumtaz

    So true,,,,,, I totally nd completely agree with the writer,,,,, myself being a mother of three kids,,,,, I know it do gets hectic nd tiring sometimes but at the end of the day when I lay down on my bed to sleep,,,,, it gives me great feeling that I have been there for my kids all the day for any help they need nd for every comfort they wanted,,,,, this trend of maids is increasing day by day nd to create awareness efforts must be madeRecommend

  • Expat

    @Unknown:
    The authors’ point is exactly that. To trust someone unknown with your most precious belonging, your child, is a huge deal. The educated people in the west tend to homeschool their children to properly raise them. A nanny or aya is NEVER a replacement of a mother, but I have seen this happening in Pakistan. Most women trust total strangers to take care of their babies, which is not only dangerous considering the safety standards here, but also a bad influence. The kind of manners, ethics and behaviors your child learns from the caregivers is obvious when you see the children interacting with each other. There is a huge difference between paalna and tarbiyyat, if you know what I mean.Recommend

  • Expat

    @Stranger:
    No, we don’t, just like any third world country.Recommend

  • Farah Malik

    If I may clear up the confusion on “thong” here the writer is not talking about the ladies underwear,but flip lop or chapel as it is called in Pakistan. Over seas chapel is also called thong. I do agree the Hippocratic view of the elite class where it is beneath them to mingle with them but ok for them to trust the same middle and lower class to raid and teach their children.This kind of prejudice goes on in every country and culture. It is upon individuals how they teach the morals and justice to their offspring. Most readers here missed the point and are arguing about totally wrong thing. Sad to say,maybe these are all the product of the same elite class.Recommend

  • muzi

    Ironic though but tge writer seems to just criminalize the upper classes because they can afford outside help for the cae of their children unlike her who could not…it was better if the writter Kiran Zafar should have explained the inhumane behavior kept up with the maids rather than showing the mother as igborant of the children without knowing that they care for their child at home or not…a piece of jealousy written to hide her own short comings and failures…Recommend

  • muzi

    Ironic though but the writer seems to just criminalize the upper classes because they can afford outside help for the cae of their children unlike her who could not…it was better if the writter Kiran Zafar should have explained the inhumane behavior kept up with the maids rather than showing the mother as igborant of the children without knowing that they care for their child at home or not…a piece of jealousy written to hide her own short comings and failures…Recommend

  • http:[email protected] sakina

    Hi. Your article is very well written. But the title is so wrong. Recommend

  • Amna Najeeb

    Why do a mother has to be guilty always? For doing job and not giving time to her children or for not doing job and not providing her children the luxuries of life? Iam an engineer and an MBA, still a stay at home mom. I have sacrificed my career for my child’s better upbringing. I don’t trust maids or someone else for my son’s care. Still I face people who say why are you wasting your time and not doing a job, and that I wasted an engineering seat etc. And im damn sure if I start working i’ll be criticized even more. Our society has nothing else to do.
    And i’m really disappointed how the author has presented the image of our nation. Being a Pakistani she shouldn’t have done that. I won’t remain silent if someone will give a bad name to my country.Recommend

  • sehrish

    Loved reading it. Totally agree to all the points. I have observed this behaviour of mothers and their kids when I taught for 6 months in a kindergarten. .Recommend

  • Ayla.B.

    It’s and bits of this article do summarize to a ‘bitter fact’ – but I still believe that downright calling it an ‘elite class’ problem is quite hypocritical.I remember always being taken care by nanny’s, maybe not when it came to being fed or bathed and that’s probably the reason why your immune system works better than those who were eating whatever was fed by their maids. I remember seeing my parents having a great social life while spending the best of their times with us. The whole idea about having a ‘help’ is not gossiping about your fat-free-bodies-and-oh-so-pretty-diamonds, but also to involve yourself in other activities rather than cleaning poops (which of course is a part of the deal, when decided to take the responsibility of having a child) – Again it falls down to managing and handling your priorities your own way.. The fact that a child ran to his ‘maid’ for comfort- kinda makes her throw away her ‘typical’ mentality (the writer that is) He spends time with the maid and feels that he has that connection, which is natural.-and maybe because the mother was too busy INSIDE chit-chatting away with her ‘freshly manicured made fingers’ like she says. I’m sure late at night he likes cuddling up with his parents – cause he’s clearly been raised by them as well:) Keeping a balance is maybe what is missing in this article and WHY the concept of having a ‘maid’ should be an advantage rather than a ‘society issue’.

    The problem is when those handbags and high heels interfere with their motherhood – which i’m sure it doesn’t and no one should judge. The comparison between the ‘simplicity’ of the West and the ‘shocking’ lifestyle of the East, for the writer – is set for another debate which includes why sending your child to daycare’s in the ‘simple’ part of the world is justified – for whatever reasons they may be… I also think this generation and set of parents are more focused and on the same mental grounds as their offspring’s.Recommend

  • Sara

    It is a well written article, but you included whole Pakistan? Can middle class and lower class people afford these maids and ayas? No, not at all. So why your caption points to the whole nation?Recommend

  • Unknown

    @sarah:
    After reading some of the comments about ‘Thongs’, I thought I’ll jump in and clarify the confusion. In Australia, thongs refer to the flip flops, havaianas or the ‘chappals’ as we know them. The writer is not referring to casually dressed in G-strings!Recommend

  • Ayesha Kidwai

    good joke… so just from a party you’v judged their whole life style… that’s wonderful…
    what about those mothers or parents those giving mobile phones/tabs/laptops to their little minds??? in parties and get-togethers children instead of meeting people, playing games on it… 12 yrs old have their own facebook id’s, 10 yrs old is learning to make ‘a home made bomb’ from youtube, same as 14 yrs old is driving cars around… children should be playing with the TOYS made for them like nintendo etc…
    main point is not maids or gadgets… main point is owning your own child… if you have a mature maid supervised by you, therz no harm!!!Recommend

  • Seema

    Well i found this article full of stereotypes and I am sorry i dont subscribe to the author’s generalizations. Although i belong to middle class but I have seen mothers of the so called elite class. yes they stress about their clothes and public image, yes they have maids who tend to their children but it is completely wrong to assume that they dont care about their children. Like any mother, they worry and stress when their child falls ill or doesnt perform well at school. They do know what their children’s like or dislikes are and very much love them. It is just wrong to label the rich and elite as bad parents, children, or spousesRecommend

  • Saleha

    wow, this writer is one judgmental person!
    i wonder where does ” Miss Fellowship Trainee of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians” drop her kids off to when she goes for work/college?

    let me tell this story from a different point of view:

    “Expat Pakistani Muslims, A community raised with sordid
    morals!”

    “During my last visit to US/UK/CANADA/AUSTRALIA i was appalled to see how my desi counterparts were raising their kids!”
    women toss their merely months old kids with nannies and day care, while they go to work (mind you most of these women dont need to help out, their doctor/engineer/CA husbands are doing very well)
    last week i was invited to a “retro” themed retirement party. I was ashamed to see the retirees wife and teenage daughters all dressed in short dresses standing brazenly next to him with uncovered legs and bare shoulders! The subtle cleavage and indecent dresses embarrassed even me, but the desi dad was not fazed at all! Soon the talk turned to Pakistan and the lack of upbringing there and how girls are restricted there and here, abroad, how they are free to be women!

    I felt so out of place so I took hand of my precious and perfect raised in Pakistan daughter and went outside where the rest of the girls were standing, laughing and gossiping in their tight and revealing dresses. Gossiping about their “gora” boyfriend and how another desi girl ran off with a “black guy” last summer.

    i felt a sudden cringe and hurried inside where the rest of the moms were gossiping. Wanting to get out this as soon as possible, I went up to the bare legged hostess to say my goodbye and leave. She grabbed me by my arm and took me aside.
    “Bohat pyari bachi hai apki MashAllah”
    “Thank you” i said politely.
    “Buss i wanted to ask you a favor, look for a good girl for my fawad”
    “i dont know anyone here, i only know people back in Pakistan” i replied
    the hostess crept closer,”thats what i want as, yahan ki larkion kay halaat tu pata hai apko”

    A sarcastic smile crept up on my face. Oh the irony…Recommend

  • Faizan

    Dr. Kiran

    We went to an elite party and based on v what you saw there you concluded that the entire nation is being raised by aayas. Yet when you were working and your kid was at day care or with a baby sitter then that’s ok because it has am English name and a cool sonds to it.

    At the same time I do agree that the aaya trend is increasing but since people in metropolitan a do not live in a combined our joint family system so it becomes a necessity. And don’t you tHink that women have a right to have a career as well. Aha a trick question just like the title of your blog. Recommend

  • Nageena

    All I can say is BRAVO excellent well said my dearRecommend

  • Hadia

    Ur talking about extreme elite class which is v same in every corner on earth. Then y Pakistan. V unfortunately Ve no advance crèche or perfect daycare system in our country otherwise 90/ kids abroad spend most part of their day in crèche/ school to afterschool. Also one can’t infer those mothers role at homesRecommend

  • Mansoor Ahmad

    Well done Kiran.Recommend

  • nazeer

    I would say that these Pakistani kids raised by maids are far better off than the ones I see in day care here in Canada.Recommend

  • Sami

    Beautifully written. So true. Recommend

  • Zainab Jabbar

    @99% of Pakistan:
    Misleading article. Help does not equal ignorance there are many fantastic balanced and wonderful mothers in Pakistan. Whether they’re tilling the fields, doing menial jobs or working as lawyers, doctors and professionals. Pakistan is one if the poorest nations in the world. 99% of the population is anything but as depicted in this article. Mothers are tumbling in children from the rural areas to the middle class and struggling to put food on the table. How about rooting for those mothers instead? As for maid culture the author seems to be missing the economics of the situation. Poor regions in South, East Asia, Africa and South America have a surplus of unskilled workers which creates opportunities for domestic staff at lower labour costs, hence it is heavily utilized in these regions. However rich people everywhere are the same. This is not a Pakistan specific problem. You only have to walk into a high income household in New York to see probably illegal immigrant Latinos doing the same, philipinos in Hong Kong, South Asians in Dubai, and East Europeons in London. Relatively speaking the elite Pakistanis can barely compete with the global rich in terms of wasteful spending and class consciousness. There are ignorant people everywhere albeit the environment could do with significant improvements, One last question – I’d like to ask this doctor where she leaves her child when she’s at work?Recommend

  • Sahar Hasan

    I agree that the Article talked about extravagance at its best. However, I don’t think working Mums have a choice BUT to hand over their kids into the custody of maids and hired help during office hours at least, unless their work place offers day care facilities, which in most cases, they don’t. This is true both for Pakistan and abroad. Hence, keeping the elite class apart, who the article attacks, I’m not sure everyone CAN actually raise their children full-time themselves. Once kids are being raised partly by hired help, then despite parents’ vigilance (who are also only human), the kids might not learn the best behaviour, and might run to their nanny for fixing boo boos (they are only kids). Perhaps there could be a way to educate the maids, I would love to hire a maid who is educated, since it’s my husband’s and my joint decision to continue working after we have children, for self-satisfaction as well as to provide our family a prosperous future. I still think that we cannot generalize Pakistan being a nation raised by maids and ‘aayas’, many can’t afford to hire help, despite their needs.Recommend

  • Amna Najeeb

    @ Saleha: very very well said. I think you should also write an article on these American/british/australian pakistanis… how they live there, whats their lifestyle and how so called ‘advanced’ they are.Recommend

  • http://www.zeenatmahal.com Zeenat Mahal

    @Shumaila: Very well said, Shumaila. I agree with you completely. All over the world, the ‘natural’ state of a woman is considered to be motherhood, and any woman who says otherwise is a monster. Roles are forced upon women and generation after generation suffers because choice is not a right but something the significant male in the lives of these women may or may not ‘give’ women.Recommend

  • zafar

    Though the article is totally right about the elite, 0.1% or may be 1% doesn’t define the whole country. A more suitable title would be “Pakistani elite, a class raised by ‘maids’ and ‘aayas'”. Also, it says a whole-lot about those who later rule the country and look upon the same poor, who literally raised them, with so much hatred and acrimony.Recommend

  • boco

    Well if the nannies weren’t fluent in English Southeast Asian or Eastern European then you weren’t really mingling with the ‘elite’ of Pakistan (au pairs are all the rage apparently), more likely the nouveau riche! Regardless, the problem you pointed out is a case of irresponsible parents selecting unsuitable care for their children, a full-time child care provider should at least be a moderately educated adult with proper child-rearing guidelines. If being a nanny wasn’t looked down upon and if nannies or child care providers weren’t treated like domestic help or in worst case scenarios slaves then more girls from the middle class would take up this profession. Recommend

  • Amir

    Lovely article. Although it reflects only a tiny % of people of Pakistan but it is totally true. Sad that this is Pakistani Class who is ruling this nation :( Recommend

  • kmax

    Queensland is bogon country, nobody with a sane mind would want to live in a place dominated by racist. I think she should concentrate more on the racism in Australia rather than issues she confronts on her visit to Pakistan. Besides she has lived here her whole life, she did not realize these things before.Recommend

  • A Pakistani Mother

    This is one party of Higher Elite Class (not Elite Higher Elite) of Pakistan, which are only 1-2 % of Total Pakistan. How can it be said that the whole pakistani nation is raised by maids and ayeas? Miss Kiran may be a good writer due to her simple and flawless writtings but as her article shows a major drawback of her SHORT SIGHTEDNESS. She saw one party and made a comment on whole nation. In order to comment on something a writter should have a broad experiance and must see the thing in particular scenario rather than applying single family situation on whole nation .Recommend

  • saman

    interesting ! but then again more than 80% of our nation DOES NOT comprises of the eliteRecommend

  • Aasim Mukhtar

    You’ve absolutely nailed it Kiran.. I believe your kid should be your top most priority.. If you work, send him / her to day care as caregivers there are supposed to be “trained and capable”, but once you are back from work, your kid is yours.. Handing them to young girls is criminal.. On one hand it’s child labor, on the other, how can you trust them to raise your kid in the most important part of his / her life in terms of learning.. Recommend

  • Father

    @@Unknown:
    You missed that the author pointed out that what’s happening to these young girls is “a brazen child abuse”Recommend

  • Tanzeel Murtaza

    Very easy and cheap way to get famous. Defame/Criticize PakistanRecommend

  • Zainab

    I don’t know which Pak and elite class r u talking about . I just came back from pak and there was no maid system . Actually there wasn’t even an elite class . Everyone was equal . There was no poverty , the govt works efficiently , average man works even harder . No law and order problems .if rarely u find a poor person , he’s treated with respect and each and everyone with a little amount of money , give him their own money and help him in any way they can .No one wants green card and American citizenship is offered to them ,but they refuse to take it .its a great country and a great nation and most importantly they r happy and proud the way they r .and I guess that’s the secret of their success .
    God bless our great country and it’s even greater citizens . ” Ya Allah Pls”.Recommend

  • maha

    it says a NATION raised by maids… how could u over generalize a fact that is prevalent among a really small proportion of population. i mean how much of pakistanis’ mothers hier maids to take care of their kids it won’t be more than 2% of the total population.. when this is a country where more than half of a population lives in villages..where customs and traditions are strictly followed its not fair to portray things this way.Recommend

  • as

    I think, its a a great culture to have maids, if you think of it as both the employers and employee being of benefit to each other, however what should the case is that the family employing the maid should have good moral (religious) etiquette..this way while the maid acts as a helper to the mother, she in return is groomed, educated and taken care of. how wonderful would that be for our country! it is better than how in the west parents are the sole caretakers and are mostly stressed and exausted.. Recommend

  • Hena Sheikh

    Simply meritorious…Recommend

  • Liberty

    Really? Are you sure you were in Pakistan, or are you just in denial? ‘No poverty’? Do you work for the government? ‘Everyone was equal’? Does that include Christians, Ahmedis, etc? (I am neither, but you get my point)
    Pakistan is (or was…and can be) a great nation, but please don’t whitewash reality.Recommend

  • Maya

    Exceptionally disturbing how you seem to see this from ONLY the point of view of the toddlers. What about the child maids? You call them “immature country girls”… but these are children as well; did you notice? It is disgusting to me that there was zero empathy for these child maid / servant / slave girls. You made a note of seeming “brazen child abuse”, but you were talking about the toddlers… about the effects on their “little brains” as they are raised by adolescents, who in your words “lack basic manners”??!! What of these adolescent maids? They are the real victims here. The “10-15” year old girls should be in school, or playing not taking care of the children of rich folk. What you have witnessed is deeply cruel and wrong from THAT perspective madam, not because the toddlers brains will not properly develop.Recommend

  • zaigham

    i believe writer made a mistake wile writing the title .i do agree with the writer that there are people who exist in our society but this article dose not represent the country as a whole it just a small chunk of the complete picture i believe less the .01 percent of the total pakistanRecommend

  • http://twitter.com/sawant Sawant

    Testing comments.Recommend