Two Indian Maids Held Hostage by their Abusive Saudi Sponsor

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Nov 22 2009

The Saudi daily Arab Times published a story today about a sponsor who is preventing his two maids from returning to India until they pay him.

Upon arrival to the Kingdom, the maids (whose real names aren't given), discovered that their sponsor had made a deal with a recruitment agency to "loan" them to several other households. Both maids were abused, one by a family she was "loaned" to, which kept her locked while physically abusing her. The sponsor locked the other maid for the whole month of Ramadan and her meal for the day consisted of two dates after Iftar. When the maids begged their sponsor to let them return to India, he demanded 15,000 SR ($4000) from each. Both maids were not paid during all of this time, and the money went to their agency. They are of course unable to pay this large sum of money.

It is not an exaggeration to call this a case of modern-day slavery. These maids are trapped in Saudi Arabia because the Saudi government requires the consent of the sponsor to issue exit permits. The Sponsorship system creates a total dependency of the workers on their employer. Saudi Arabia has been considering reforming the Sponsorship system for years now, yet nothing changes. Abusive employers do not face repercussions for their actions. These maids have gone abused and without pay, and all they hope for is that some good people would furnish them the money so they can return home.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East