Maid in Kuwait sentenced 5 years for baby outside wedlock

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Dec 22 2015

A Ugandan maid recently jailed for having a baby outside wedlock received a five year prison sentence on Monday.  She will be deported after serving her sentence.

Fatuma Nambi, 32, has been held at Sulaibiya Central Jail since she delivered a baby at her sponsor’s home in September.

According to Bashir Ali Nsubuga, a Ugandan Community leader in Kuwait who has been following the case, Fatuma’s fate came after a few hearings in which she did not have any legal representation. Facing the judge on her own, Fatuma denied the adultery charges.

“The court provided a translator who always asked her whether she consented to the crime or not and whenever she said “no” she was dismissed to wait for another hearing, until the verdict was finally given,” he said.

“What is important at this time is for the Ugandan government to intervene and save Fatuma, we can't start apportioning blame as we do not even understand the circumstances regarding her conception, it could have been as a result of sexual assault as it is common for maids in Arab homes, complete isolation renders them vulnerable,” said Bashir.

“For the government of Uganda failing to provide legal services to its migrants arrested in these Gulf Arab countries is unacceptable. Why should it sign deals of sending millions of maids to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait when it cannot even accord them legal services?”

Housemaid’s pregnancies are relatively common but, far from population projections of maids’ as deviants and temptresses, many are the result of sexual assault.  Housemaids often terminate pregnancies through risky means or give birth without medical assistance. The outcome can be tragic for both mother and baby; some women are so fearful of the legal repercussions, they abandon or kill their infant children.

Norah Namatovu, Fatuma’s 70 year-old the mother, was inconsolable on hearing the news of her daughter’s sentence. Moses Muwalampya, Fatuma’s elder brother, said “We are now worried about Fatuma’s fate and also the condition of our mother, she has been very weak recently and her health is not good,” he said.

Namatovu had earlier told that her daughter had called on an anonymous number and told her that her phone had been confiscated, that she was in big trouble and needed prayers. She later learnt that her daughter had given birth and was arrested. Fatuma left two children with her in Uganda and always sent monthly upkeep, including school fees, from Kuwait.

“I don’t even know where to start from; I have never been to Kuwait. It is hard to know that your child is in prison and you cannot do much about it,” said Ms Namatovu.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East