Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pathetic. Just. Pathetic!!!

Nour Miyati, a maid from Indonesia, has been in the news here in The Sandbox since March of 2005 [click to see the photo of her lying in a hospital bed!]. The case made the headlines for several months - then it would quietly go away - and be back in the headlines again some time later. Ms. Miyati's past several years - at least since approximately October of 2003 - have been nothing short of a living hell.

The "short" version of the poor maid's saga is that her sponsor took her to the hospital for some injuries she'd sustained; the preliminary medical report said "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." Some injuries? I'd say!

Ms. Miyati was rushed to surgery where "doctors found gangrene in her limbs" and amputated "fingers on both hands, part of her right food and toes on her left foot in order to save her life." Ms. Miyati said "that her sponsor punished her because she had not finished her housecleaning completely. ...and that her hands and feet had been tied up and that she had been imprisoned in a bathroom for a month. ...her sponsor warned her not to talk to police or embassy officials." Gee. Is it any wonder why the sponsor wouldn't want her talking to police or embassy officials?

There was quite a backlash; and the general public was enraged. Roger Harris wrote a great article for Arab News and said:

In the interests of equity and the integrity of its position on human rights, it is time for the Saudi authorities to address with the utmost vigor the continued abuse of domestic workers in the Kingdom...

Quick and quite correct to comment volubly on "human rights abuses" against prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, that section of the Arab public which voices loud concerns about "human rights" and the "preservation of the dignity of humanity" must now manifest itself and shout about this injustice from the rooftops of the Arab world. No more finger pointing at wickedness abroad; it is alive and well right here in Saudi Arabia...

For years, maids have been burned with irons, beaten and abused in the Kingdom - all a matter of public record. Foreign workers go unpaid for months, even years - again as a matter of public record. We here in the Kingdom know it and the rest of the world hears about it as well. It still occurs. Why?

The National Society for Human Rights intervened and contacted the investigating police. The sponsor, of course, "denied any connection with what had happened to Miyati, claiming the maid was bitten by an insect." [Good fucking grief?!? What kind of insect leaves such heinous injuries from a bite? I have to know so that I can avoid whatever it was at all possible costs!] a few days after the sponsor took Nour to the hospital, the Riyadh police arrested him and questioned him. And, but for an insect bite - for which the young maid should be thankful her sponsor, Fahd Naji Al-Dossary, was so concer
ned about that he took her to seek medical attention - he and his wife did absolutely nothing to harm a maid who had worked for them UNPAID for eighteen months!!! The maid's version differs somewhat slightly and speaking on her behalf, Labor Attache at the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh, M. Sugiarto, said that:

"The first time she asked for her salary, that's when it started... It wasn't only the man, the wife beat her too. She developed gangrene in her hands and feet after being tied up for a month in the bathroom. When the gangrene began to smell unpleasant, the family made her sleep outside the main house... They locked her up whenever they went out."

As the poor maid languished in the hospital, receiving the best of care the Kingdom has to offer at the behest of Crown Prince Abdullah, during which time another maid was sadistically tortured and raped, Nour Miyati's case again made headlines when, in a shocking twist of events, SHE was charged with making false allegations!!! Apparently, at some point in the investigation Nour "retracted" her earlier charges that she was tied up and tortured by her employer so SHE was charged with making false allegations against her employer.

The case was "reinvestigated" and "re-reinvestigated". It was determined that further "clarification" was needed from the "report cited" from the "medical committee" as to as to some of the findings:

"The maid suffered wounds and bruises to her body, suggesting she had been the victim of violence and that the gangrene could not have been caused as a direct result of beating and that it was probably caused by a disease suffered by the patient." [Oh, yeah, that AND the insect bite!]

"Furthermore, the report suggested that the bruises on the maid's body came as a result of a wardrobe having fallen on her. And that the fingers must have been affected by using chemical detergents. The report, which is foggy and full of hazy possibilities and even medically suspect statements, goes on to say that some of the bruises were inflicted by the sponsor's wife."

Case almost closed then. Nothing "suspect" anywhere. The maid got bitten by some sort of mutant alien insect; a clothing wardrobe ["armoire"] fell on her and she forgot to wear gloves on the days she stuck her hands in to buckets of chemicals. Umm. Yeah. And off Nour Miyati goes, to JAIL!!! AND, unbelievably, is sentenced to receive 79 lashes! Yes. Whereas, the sponsor's wife, who admitted at some point to throwing a shoe at Ms. Miyati was only sentenced to receive 35 lashes. What 80 lashes for poor Nour Miyati was too many, and 75 lashes weren't enough? The Judge, later, did reverse his ruling as to the maid. Justice prevails...

During the course of the time Nour Myati's ruling to her 79 lashes was reversed, there were other maids in the news due to abuse at the hands of their sponsors. I've blogged on some of them...

But poor Nour Miyati, who has been put through the utterly unspeakable for the last four and a half years - who came here to make a living from a country where she couldn't - in the end, gets ONLY 2,500 Riyals for enduring pain and suffering - AFTER having worked for EIGHTEEN MONTHS DURING WHICH SHE WAS NOT PAID. 2,500 Riyals. That's $670.24 in U.S. dollars. Oh, sure. Plenty, right?

Ms. Miyati, you will probably never read this blog - and likely will never know it exists - only a very select few do. Please know that I for one am so sorry that you have had to live through this entire experience. I know your time here has left you with nothing but repulsive memories you will have to live with forever. NO ONE CAN BLAME YOU FOR THAT!

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