Furore over Indonesian’s beheading in Saudi Arabia

BBC News reports:

Indonesian MPs have called for a ban on workers being sent to the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia executed a maid without informing Jakarta.

Indonesia has recalled its ambassador to Riyadh to express its anger.

A crowd of protesters gathered outside the Saudi embassy in Jakarta displaying banners and T-shirts in support of the executed worker.

The maid, Ruyati binti Sapubi, was beheaded with a sword on Saturday after confessing to murdering her boss.

Indonesian media reports said she attacked her boss with a meat cleaver after being denied permission to return home.

About 1.5 million Indonesians work in Saudi Arabia – many of them as domestic maids.

Anger has been growing in recent years over the treatment of migrant workers – particularly maids, who often complain of mistreatment.

The Jakarta Post reports:

After nationwide outcry and heavy criticism of the execution by beheading of Indonesian maid Ruyati binti Satubi in Saudi Arabia, the Indonesian government on Tuesday moved swiftly to pay Rp 4.7 billion [US$ 550,000] to save another citizen from beheading.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa debriefed Indonesian ambassador to Saudi Arabia Gatot Abdullah Mansyur, who was recalled from his post, about why the embassy in Riyadh was not informed about Ruyati’s execution.

There was no immediate information if Gatot was released from his duties or whether he was instructed to remain in Jakarta, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene only confirming that “the point of the meeting was the consultation related to Ruyati’s case”.

Michael, however, confirmed that the ministry had paid the family of a Saudi man killed by Indonesian maid Darsem.

Darsem, a migrant worker from Subang, West Java, said at her trial in a Saudi court that she killed her employer in self defense after he tried to rape her. The victim’s family agreed to spare her if she paid Rp 4.7 billion in compensation, also called blood money.

The US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report for 2010 states:

Saudi Arabia is a destination country for men and women subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor. Men and women from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and many other countries voluntarily travel to Saudi Arabia as domestic servants or other low-skilled laborers, but some subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude, including restrictions on movement and communication, the withholding of passports and other travel documents, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and non-payment of wages. In some cases, arriving migrant workers have found the terms of employment in Saudi Arabia are wholly different from those they agreed to in their home countries. The Indian government no longer permits its female nationals under age 40 to take jobs as domestic workers in Saudi homes due to the high incidence of physical abuse by employers. Women, primarily from Asian and African countries, were believed to have been forced into prostitution in Saudi Arabia; others were reportedly kidnapped and forced into prostitution after running away from abusive employers.

Yemeni, Nigerian, Pakistani, Afghan, Chadian, and Sudanese children were subjected to forced labor as beggars and street vendors in Saudi Arabia, facilitated by criminal gangs. Unconfirmed reports indicated fewer Yemeni children may have been forced to work in Saudi Arabia during the reporting period. A 2009 doctoral study submitted to Naif Arab University for Security Sciences concluded Jeddah may be a hub for an international child trafficking network exploiting the Hajj and Umrah visas (visas for religious pilgrimages to Mecca).

Some Saudi nationals travel to destinations including Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh to solicit prostitution. Some Saudi men used legally contracted “temporary marriages” in countries such as Mauritania, Yemen, and Indonesia as a means by which to sexually exploit migrant workers.

The Government of Saudi Arabia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. In a positive development, the government enacted anti-trafficking legislation during the reporting period, and published a National Plan for Combating Trafficking in Persons. However, the new law did not provide criminal sanctions for the prohibited but still common practice of withholding passports and denying exit visas, and did not provide provisions for trafficking victims to remain in Saudi Arabia during investigations and court proceedings. There was no confirmation the government criminally prosecuted or punished trafficking offenders under the new or existing laws.

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3 thoughts on “Furore over Indonesian’s beheading in Saudi Arabia

  1. Norman

    It’s too bad that the international bankers have turned the world into such a failed state of affairs in their quest to dominate the world. When a human life is treated as just an object, to throw away after use, one can only hope for the downfall of such short sightedness in the human evolution.

  2. Tariku Hussein

    This is what the Saudis must do: Make it mandatory to sign clear and legally approved employment contracts and set up a complaints entity where maids can go without fear, and which has the mandate to punish abusive employers who violate the contract.

    OTHERWISE the Saudis will continue to nurture the image of a nation of arrogant racist slaveholders.

  3. Steve

    It’s lucky for them the Saudi’s have oil and are compliant to the US’s wishes in the ways of realpolitik otherwise they might just be asked nicely to stop.

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