Asian Maid Tortured to Death in Saudi-Arabia by her Sponsor

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Aug 28 2009

A housemaid has been murdered in yet another horrific but common case (another incident is this one in Kuwait). Earlier today the following report was published on Arab News:

Couple arrested for torturing maid to death

JUBAIL: A 28-year-old maid described only as “Asian” was beaten to death by her sponsor and his wife last Friday, a local daily reported on Monday.

Police confirmed reports the maid was brought to a local hospital in Jubail dead with multiple wounds and burns to her body and head. Police said an iron rod was used to beat and burn the maid.

Police have arrested the 36-year-old Saudi and his 29-year-old wife. The man confessed to beating the maid with an iron rod. He also said the rod was heated to burn the maid.

The couple claimed that they had to resort to the beatings because of the maid’s attitude. The husband justified his behavior saying the maid repeatedly failed to carry out his orders and also neglected work inside the house.

The husband, during the interrogation, cast doubts about the maid’s character, claiming that she did “indecent” things inside the house. He said he took the iron to the maid’s body after throwing water on her.

The man confessed that his wife joined him in torturing the maid more than once. A special team set up to investigate the murder transferred the employer’s wife to a women’s shelter in Al-Ahsa because she is not over 30. It is common to place women in detention in such shelters.

Col. Yousuf Al-Qahtani, spokesman for the Eastern Province police, said that the employer was still in custody. The body of the maid is still at hospital. The diplomatic mission of the maid’s home country will soon get involved to repatriate the body.

In February, a Saudi couple was arrested on charges of beating and burning a Sri Lankan maid who was found by security patrols near the sea at Yanbu Industrial City. Police said the maid suffered burns across her body, especially her hands. Police said the employer and his wife denied mistreating the maid, insisting the injuries were self-inflicted.

The local press has over the past few years carried many stories of instances relating to abuse of domestic helpers.

The Saudi government recently ran a public awareness campaign in an attempt to help quell the problem of maid abuse. The embassies of countries that remit housemaids, such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka, routinely deal with runaway, abused or unpaid maids.

It will be interesting to see what the Saudi government aims to do in order to limit the amount of overwhelming abuse taking place against innocent housemaids and labor workers everywhere. But judging from their reaction (or lack thereof) on similar cases, we are not hopeful.

Please spread the word about the situation. Demand change.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East