Published On:26 March 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Kerala Nurses Plight in Saudi Arabia: Slavery is an immoral act

[I immensely thank Tariq A. Al-Maeena, a prominent Saudi socio-political commentator, for sharing his article with IndianMuslimObserver.com for the benefit of readers. The article, originally published in The Saudi Gazette, is an eye-opener and thoughtprovoking. Kudos to Tariq A. Al-Maeena for highlighting the important issue confronted by Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia. – Danish Ahmad Khan, Founder-Editor, IndianMuslimObserver.com]

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

My column last week on the plight of three Keralite nurses stranded in this country by their sponsor without their dues has prompted a reader to send me another instance of inhumane practices exercised by some Saudis in the treatment of their workers.

A representative of an NGO called ‘Pleace India’ (Pravasi Legal Aid Cell) has forwarded me the story of yet another atrocious act against a human being and exercised by none other than the worker’s sponsor.

In this case, the story revolves around an Indian woman who had come to work in the household of her sponsor more than 20 years ago. At the time she was 25 years old. Her agreed salary was SR 400 per month, which was paid to her for the first ten months and then all further payments ceased. There was no reason given, and employed in a village in Hail, the housemaid had nowhere to turn to.

Her working day started at 5am and ended sometimes after midnight with no rest day, and as stated, no wages after her first ten months. She has complained of physical abuse at the hands of her sponsor whenever she has brought up the issues of what should be lawfully coming to her in terms of compensation. But perhaps the most pitiful and sickening aspect of her story is that she has been practically held as a working hostage for over 20 years…Yes, 20 years without once going back!

Photo Courtesy: PravasiToday.com
She is over 45 years of age today. During her imposed tenure at her sponsor’s household, her parents and her only brother died back in India, funerals for which she was denied departure. She has not once been granted a leave, paid or otherwise and is essentially an unpaid slave in this ungrateful household.

Desperation over the years caused her to run to the police on several occasions, the last of which resulted in the police admonishing her sponsor and ordering him to pay her all her amount outstanding and arrange for her airfare and exit. The sponsor for whatever reason has not complied with any of the conditions, flaunting the police requirements as he continued his forced act of modern day slavery. Her only reward as a result of her going to the police was more physical abuse at the hands of her employer.

Just picture for a moment this young woman who came her some twenty years ago in the hope of making a little bit of money to support her family and possibly save some for her marriage to a young dashing Indian is reduced today to a hopeless, confused, middle-aged wreck. How such a thing could be allowed to happen in this country and in today’s times is a crime in itself.
The police in this case have obviously failed in their duties by not enforcing the directives in favor of the woman. It is somewhat gratifying that an NGO is currently pursuing her case with the Indian Embassy in Riyadh and hopefully through their efforts, some dignity can be restored to this abused woman.

But what should and will happen to her sponsor is another story. Unless some human rights organization does not pick up on this case and fight on her behalf, the most likely scenario is that she would be eventually deported without her dues, and her employer would immediately apply for another visa to recruit yet another ‘slave’.

Tariq A. Al-Maeena
The Hans India, a newspaper out of Hyderabad led its State edition page (09 March 2012) with the headline ‘Indian woman’s 20-year Saudi saga of slavery’ in which it lamented the plight of this lady and the reluctance of the Indian Embassy to get involved in her repatriation. I am sure that the Embassy wouldn’t ignore such an obvious travesty of justice and will commit its resources to help this lady. 

It is a blot on us as Saudis to have the label of ‘slavery’ dangling around us, but let us not remain in denial. It is indeed unfortunate that some of our countrymen do practice such cruel acts without care or concern for the consequences, and they must be stopped at all costs. Slavery is an immoral act.

[Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He was educated at the University of Denver. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He can be contacted at talmaeena@aol.com]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on March 26, 2012. Filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on March 26, 2012. Filed under , , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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