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Saudi’s step back?

Saudi’s step back?

Kipp thinks the story of a maid who may have been tortured by her Saudi employers undermines the country’s tentative steps forward. Or are we reading too much into it?

August 29, 2010 4:06 by

Just a week or two after the welcome news that a supermarket chain in Saudi would be trialing women at the checkout comes the decidedly less welcome news that a Sri Lankan maid working in the country may have been tortured by her employers. If true, it’s a horrifying, depressing injustice that would provoke a measure of anger and disgust in all who hear it. The maid was found with 24 nails and needles embedded in her legs, arms, hands and forehead. It is alleged that the 49-year-old’s employers, a Saudi couple, pushed the nails and needles into her body when she complained about her hard workload.

According to Reuters, nearly 2 million Sri Lankans sought employment overseas last year and around 1.4 million, mostly maids, were employed in the Middle East. Many have complained of physical abuse or harassment. In this particular case, the maid says the nails were hammered in while they were hot. Her plight was only discovered after she traveled home and was taken to see a doctor, and later required surgery to have the items removed.

According to Arab News, the medical report has now been received by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Saudi Arabia, and a video statement translated into Arabic has been handed into the Saudi Embassy in Colombo.
Condemning it as an inhumane act on an innocent worker, Kingsley Ranawaka, chairman of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), said that the Saudi authorities should wake up regarding such human rights violations.

“Prompt action by the Saudi government will not only give confidence to the rest of the workers but will also stand as a warning against such merciless employers who treat workers like animals,” Ranawaka told Arab News from Colombo.

News like this saddens Kipp, not just for the woman herself, who has so clearly and unfairly suffered, but also for Saudi Arabia. The small steps forward, such as allowing women to work in supermarkets, pale against the huge step backwards that a story like this can represent. We’re reminded of a story we read in the Arab News recently where a Saudi Arabian legitimately suggested employers could install iron bars and electric curtains and hide the apartment key to prevent maids running away during Ramadan.

Do you think Saudi is making progress? Or are the small steps forward completely overwhelmed by the huge steps back?

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  1. Yakshadeva on August 29, 2010 5:13 pm

    That kingdom is one of the cruelest places on earth with “” true law and order,” normads with too much money and friends in the USA.
    Bush is their pet, they give gold to Obama, free vactions to jimmy Carter .
    Kill people by stoning them to death, propagate a
    oppression of muslim women.
    Torture who come to their country to work.

  2. DANUNA THILAKARATHNA on August 29, 2010 8:44 pm

    I know very well about Saudis’ behavior, I have many year experiance in Saudi how theire behavior. One time I am stay in in the row at migration one of officer call one person go back to at last in the Row. Then again he close to the 1st in the row then again same officer call that person said go back. This the one example how is the Saudi’s behavior with inocent people.
    If do not have foreign workers in Saudi they have only Sand & camel for eat.

  3. A.J on August 30, 2010 1:03 am

    crime exists everywhere in the world…i’ve heard stories of cannibalism , serial killers, torture that came from the united states…that does not mean that the us is a violent country , it just means that there is crime in it just like every other place in the wolrd

  4. OFiroz on August 30, 2010 9:35 am

    Saudi Arabia considered by me and billions of Muslims as holy country, but the news coming out from this country is not at all welcoming. Just think about it, when there is 100 violence taking place only one will pop out and attract the media attention! We came to know about this torture only when this poor lady went back to her country, and it is a special case – nailing!!!, beating and burning became normal there!
    God only help them!

  5. Stephen Voss on August 30, 2010 1:54 pm

    I write to express my horror at the way some privileged Saudis treat their foreign servants: driving nails into their bodies, rape, murder, sexual exploitation, denial of the most basic human rights. It’s accepted because these servants aren’t Saudi or European.

    I’m equally horrified at the way some Israelis treat Palestinians: destruction of their homes and their farms, murder, humiliation, denial of the most basic human rights. It’s accepted because Palestinians are arabs.

    You may dismiss my feelings as prejudice: Islamophobia or anti-Semitism. In fact, my horror simply reflects the fact that a servant woman and a Palestinian child deserve better. They are worthy of respect and they deserve a chance at a normal human life.

    Anyone who feels like defending these people, who have the power to torment others and make good use of it, ought to ask themselves why. Anyone who feels like changing the subject and attacking someone other than the one doing the tormenting ought to ask why. Anyone who isn’t standing up for the woman and the child who are being tormented ought to look themselves in the mirror and ask why not.

    Isn’t it time to ask what we ourselves can do to stop these horrors?


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