Slave Labour In Saudi Arabia

Satinah Binti Jumadi Ahmad

Satinah Binti Jumadi Ahmad

It seldom reaches the news pages, but in Saudi Arabia thousands of young Indonesian girls and women are working as virtual slaves in the homes of wealthy Saudi’s.

Until recently it was common practice for the family they were working for to confiscate their passports and keep them a virtual prisoner. They were paid little for working almost 24 hour a day and time off was almost non-existent. They were totally at the mercy of those that ’employed’ them.

Reading an article from last year I came across the fact that one such person, 41 year-old Satinah Binti Jumadi Ahmad had eventually snapped and killed her employer, stole 37,970 Saudi Arabian riyal (£6,140) and fled the house. Although she has always claimed she acted in self-defence, she was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by the Saudi court – unless her family paid the sum of seven million riyal in ‘blood money’ to the family. From the report it would seem that this is acceptable practice under Islāmic Law.

Her family immediately tried to raise this ‘blood money’ from donations but fell far short of the target. Thankfully the Indonesian government stepped in and paid the al-Garib family their ransom.

Saudi Execution

Saudi Execution

From the report it seems that it is not uncommon for Indonesian women to be in this situation, for at the time of the report there are some 246 migrant workers on death row awaiting execution. The Indonesian government says it has so far saved 176 migrants from the death penalty by paying the ransom.

After saving Satinah Binti Jumadi Ahmad the Indonesian government entered into negotiations with the Saudi government to try and improve the living standards of its citizens working in the country. According to the Human Rights Watch, in February of this year negotiations were agreed that allowed Indonesian domestic workers to keep their passports, communicate with families, have time off and get paid monthly. Mind you, for the government to agree to this and have the affected families follow the new rules is something else again.

With all their money it would hardly seem credible that wealthy Saudi families would stoop so low as to keep what accounts to a slave in their house. It is clear that in Saudi immigrants have little or no rights whatsoever. It does not surprise me that eventually some individuals snap and kill their employer when forced to work under such conditions. Having to take beatings day after day is not what I would call ’employment’.

Roy.

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