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Saudi "Justice": Maid Torturer Acquitted

On April 5, 2011

The horrific case of abuse of 23-year-old Sumiati Binti Salan Mustapa by her Saudi sponsor once again illustrates the injustice inherent in Saudi Arabia's justice system. In January, Sumiati's woman employer was sentenced to three years in prison for stabbing, beating and burning Sumiati. However, this week, a Saudi court acquitted the woman of all charges.

Before and after

As we've previously reported , on November 6th, 2010 Mustapa was admitted to a private hospital in Madina injured from head to toe in an unconscious state. The private hospital was unable to treat her serious injuries and she was transferred to the King Fahd hospital. A worker there told the Saudi Gazette that Mustapa’s body “was burned on many places, both legs were almost motionless, some parts of her skin on her head were removed and strong marks of old wounds were on her body including skin loss on lips and head, a fractured middle finger and a cut near an eye.” Mustapa also showed signs of malnutrition or excessive blood loss. According to the Al-Watan newspaper report, “In room 365 at the orthopedic ward in King Fahd Hospital in Madina, Mustapa looked deformed as if her scalp had been peeled off….burns are scattered all over her lean body including her upper lip and fingers…she is bandaged all over and could hardly move or speak.”

On April 2, a Medina court acquitted the 53-year-old Saudi woman who employed Sumiati Binti Salan Mustapa, after the judge claimed there was no evidence that the woman tortured her Indonesian maid. However, when presented with the graphic photographs the judge "reportedly admitted them as conclusive evidence proving that the Indonesian woman was tortured by her employer." The defendant claimed that she did not torture Sumiati, and that the injuries are self-inflicted.

The young maid was reportedly "very, very disappointed" by the judge's decision. Didi Wahyudri, Indonesia’s citizen protection consul added that Sumiati is also waiting to be given her unpaid wages for four months of work. The Indonesian consulate in Jeddah has already announced that they will appeal the acquittal. To add insult to injury, the lawyer of the Saudi torturer is now demanding 37 million riyals (almost $10 million) and an apology from the abused maid. The lawyer stated that an apology is also required for Saudis who have been stereotyped in the international press as treating their maids badly. He said that 'there is a complete lack of consideration for the past 30 years in which Indonesian maids have been treated with respect in the Kingdom.'

Showcasing the "treatment with respect" of Indonesian maids in Saudi-Arabia, two Saudi women from Mecca were arrested last week for torturing their Indonesian maid to death, while another Indonesian maid committed suicide in her sponsor's house in Medina.