Saudi Arabia: Five Suicides by Migrant Workers Since the Beginning of April

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Apr 13 2010

Following a bloody month in March in Saudi Arabia when four migrants ended their lives or attempted to do so, April is setting a new low record with five suicides or suicide attempts in just 11 days. This month, four workers committed suicide in Saudi Arabia and another was saved by paramedics after attempting suicide.

On April 1, two migrant workers ended their lives in separate incident in Al-Ahsa, eastern Saudi Arabia. One worker hanged himself and was found in a car, the other was found dead by his sponsor in his room. On the following day, a 41-year-old Asian woman attempted to end her life by slitting her neck. She was rushed to the hospital from her apartment in Dharhan. On the same day, an Asian man committed suicide in Yanbu in western Saudi Arabia. On April 11, a maid killed herself by jumping off the third floor of a residential building in Mecca.

In March, there were three reported cases of suicide by migrant workers and one case of attempted suicide. On March 1, an Indonesian maid killed herself by jumping off the 3rd floor at her sponsor's house in Ahad Rufaidah. On March 5th, an Asian maid attempted to end her life by jumping off the 10th floor of a building in in Dammam. She got stuck in wires on the side of the building and was saved by security officials. On March 7, a maid in her 30s hanged herself from a balcony in Al-Samer in the Jeddah province. On March 16, a Sudanese shepherd hanged himself to death in Al-Ahsa.

Saudi Arabia's labor laws do not offer sufficient protection to domestic workers. All migrant workers in Saudi Arabia require a local sponsor to whom their work visa is tied, and they cannot change sponsors without his permission. This creates a near-total dependence of the workers on their employer and leaves workers vulnerable to abuse. Migrant workers usually resort to the desperate act of suicide as a result of poor living conditions, poor pay, abusive employers and over-exhaustion from hard working conditions.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East