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Maids Viciously Abused In Muslim Countries

From a concerned AFP:

Indonesian maids

Maid arrested after Saudi employer ‘bewitched’

RIYADH (AFP) — Saudi Arabia’s religious police have arrested a domestic worker accused of having put a spell on her employer, the Al-Madina newspaper reported on Sunday.

The arrest of the maid, whose nationality was not revealed, followed a complaint by the wife of the employer who she said had been “bewitched by the maid”.

The woman said she suspected her husband had been put under a spell because he fiercely defended the maid from criticism every time she neglected her work.

Members of the religious police, known as Mutawas, discovered “talismans and products of charlatanism” in a search of the maid’s quarters in the eastern city of Damman, the newspaper added.

The paper said the maid, who is to face trial, “admitted she took refuge in sorcery so as to make her employers like her”.

“The bewitched husband adored the maid and carried out all her wishes, unbeknownst to his wife,” the newspaper said.

Saudi’s feared religious police are tasked with enforcing respect for public morals. Witchcraft is a capital offence in Saudi Arabia, where Sharia law is strictly applied.

Around two million domestic workers, mostly from Asian countries like Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, are employed in Saudi Arabia.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says many are sexually exploited and otherwise mistreated by their employers.

And in case anyone thinks this isn’t a serious problem, here is just one news story from many similar incidents from a couple of years ago, via Arab News:

Twenty-five-year-old Indonesian maid Nour Miyati was rolled into Riyadh Medical Complex (Shumaysi Central Hospital) in critical condition by her sponsor. 

Guest Worker May Lose Digits, Toes After Being Tied Up in Bathroom for a Month

Hassan Adawi, Arab News

JEDDAH, 23 March 2005 — A 25-year-old Indonesian woman who came to Saudi Arabia as a guest worker will have several of her fingers, toes and part of her right foot amputated because of gangrene after being tied up for a month in a bathroom by her Saudi sponsor, who also apparently beat her severely, injuring her eye and knocking several of her teeth out.

The reason given was that the woman, who worked as a maid, had not finished cleaning the house. The Indonesian government is demanding justice as Riyadh police continue to investigate this disgusting crime.

The story began to unfold Saturday when Nour Miyati was taken to the Riyadh Medical Complex (Shumaysi) after her sponsor decided to get her medical help for the gangrene that ensued from being tightly bound during her monthlong bathroom imprisonment.

A physician said she was rolled into the hospital in critical condition by her sponsor. According to the preliminary medical report, there were strong marks, almost burns, on her ankles and wrists and severe contusion and bleeding in one eye, broken teeth, and evidence of being severely beaten on various parts of her body.

When she was rushed to surgery, doctors found gangrene in her limbs. It will prompt amputation of fingers on both hands, part of her right foot and toes on her left foot in order to save her life…

Nour Miyati told Fathallah that her sponsor punished her because she had not finished her housecleaning completely. She also told the official that her hands and feet had been tied up and that she had been imprisoned in a bathroom for a month. She said her sponsor warned her not to talk to police or embassy officials…

M. Sukiarto of the Indonesian Embassy noted earlier this year that a total of 2,000 housemaids have been repatriated to Indonesia so far this year, with many alleging maltreatment, nonpayment of wages or physical abuse by their sponsors. At that time, the Indonesian government called on the Kingdom to provide more protection for Indonesian female workers in addition to measures already in place.

In fact, Arab News list dozens of similar or worse stories about the abuse of maids in the region.

Even the New York Times has noticed the problem.

But never fear, there is an advertising campaign coming that will put an end to this abuse, also from the AFP:

‘Be nice to your maid’ say new Saudi ads


An advertising agency in Saudi Arabia plans to air public service commercials to promote kinder treatment of domestic helpers in a country where reports of abuse of foreign workers abound.

The ads will air on Arab satellite television stations after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, expected to end on October 12, said Kaswara al-Khatib, founder and chief creative director of Full Stop Advertising.

The commercials were initially due to be aired during the fasting month but “people tend to be nice in Ramadan anyway, and we need to be nice to them (domestic staff) beyond Ramadan,” Khatib told AFP.

Khatib said he put off the broadcasts also because he was concerned the message of mercy they are meant to send would get lost in the huge number of commercials aired during Ramadan, a month prized by advertisers as families huddle around their television sets…

One of the commercials shows an employer abusing his maid and driver, both from Asian countries as are the bulk of servants in Saudi Arabia.

“You should thank God it’s only two months,” the employer says when the driver asks for two months of unpaid wages.

“He who has no mercy will not receive mercy,” says the ad, quoting the Hadeeth, or sayings of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.

Another ad shows a typical gathering of women having a meal and the hostess telling her Filipina maid — named Rahma, or “mercy” in Arabic — to “get out of my sight,” Khatib said.

In the third ad, viewers will see the feet of a housewife who is heard ordering her maid “not to sleep until the house is spotless” and the maid scrubbing the floor.

“Show mercy to those on earth, you will receive mercy from He who is in heaven,” goes the theme, also borrowed from the Hadeeth.

Human rights groups have slammed the alleged abuse of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia, which hosts around six million expatriates.

Reports of exploitation ranging from the withholding of salaries and passports to physical assault and sexual abuse are increasingly appearing in the local press as it makes use of a measure of freedom allowed by authorities in recent years.

New York-based Human Rights Watch charged in August that the beating to death of two Indonesian female workers by a Saudi family highlighted the “atmosphere of impunity fostered by government inaction” toward abusive employers…

Riyadh police teamed up with the Sri Lankan embassy in September to rescue a Sri Lankan maid who had telephoned the Arab News newspaper to say she had been imprisoned, abused and unpaid by her woman employer for at least seven years.

Charge d’affaires at the Sri Lankan embassy W.S.M.S. Wijesundera told AFP the housemaid had reached a settlement with her employers under which they will pay more than 5,000 dollars and buy her a ticket home…

Maybe one of the problems with the natives of the Middle East is that they are either masters or slaves.

There seems to be no middle ground with them.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, October 7th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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