So says the newspaper headline; I didn't have to come up with my own. When is it going to stop? Why are authorities turning a blind eye to this and allowing it to go on and on and on? The article is here.
According to the paper's report, Ela's employers were trying to "force" her to get on a plane to go home, when authorities realized that she was in no condition to travel and prevented her from doing so. Police took the 37 year old Indonesian housemaid to the hospital in Al-Khobar where "they had treated her some weeks earlier for severe malnutrition. Her body was full of injuries - in her head, neck, back, feet, and her chest and some of the wounds were bleeding. There were also signs of burns on her body and cuts on her left wrist," said a doctor who examined her then. Pretty obvious, I'd say, that the abuse has been on-going and continuous.
This poor housemaid was fed one loaf of bread in the morning - and not a "loaf" like we Westerner's think of a "loaf," either - but a piece of pita bread - that is a loaf of bread, here. I had a "loaf" yesterday, and that was breakfast. Did it fill me up and satisfy me for the day? Absolutely NOT! For lunch I had another "loaf," with Italian salad dressing, some Parmesan cheese and a half of a bag of lettuce on it. I was hungry by four o'clock - and let me say that I do not expend nearly the bodily energy during the day that a housemaid does! There is no way you could live on one "loaf" of pita bread, a day, here. Impossible. No wonder she weighed only 30 kilograms [66 pounds]!
Ela tried to buy food with her pathetic monthly salary of 200 riyals [$59.34!!!] and when her sponsor's wife found out she "slapped, kicked and beat her." $59.34 a month to be a housemaid. I've said it before and I'll say it again, slavery is alive and thriving, here. $712.16 a year - the salary she was paid to be a housemaid - with the benefit of a roof over her head [although I guess we don't know this for sure], and one "loaf" of pita bread. [A bag, which is four loaves of pita bread, cost 3 riyals - eighty cents - and she was fed one a day - so it cost her employers twenty cents a day to feed her... What a benefit! And, by the way, the pita bread here contains no preservatives so by day three if you still have a "loaf" left, it is as hard as a rock. By the fourth day it is covered with mold.]
Think about this: $712.16 a year. That works out to be $13.69 per week for wages. Assume she worked six days a week, nine hours a day - she was paid .25 an hour. TWENTY-FIVE CENTS! [You can be sure she worked seven days a week, and probably twelve to fifteen hours a day... She was making something like SIXTEEN or THIRTEEN CENTS AN HOUR!!!] This kind of pay does not qualify as wages. If that, alone, isn't illegal, it certainly should be.
Col. Yusuf Al-Qahtani, spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior in the Eastern Province said that "Authorities are investigating whether there is culpability on the part of the employer. Why was she in such a bad condition, and why was she being forced to travel?" Give me a call, Col. Al-Qahtani. I'm pretty sure I can figure out the answers to those simple questions for you: Yes, there is culpability on the part of the employer and his wife. She was in such bad condition because she was being beaten and starved to death. She was being forced to travel because the monster's who sponsored her didn't want her to die while she was here and since she was in such an emaciated condition she couldn't work around the clock. There you go. You're welcome.
This statement of Co. Al-Qahtani makes me want to scream: "We seriously investigate such incidents, to find out if there was abuse." Maybe you do do that - seriously investigate, that is - and maybe you do determine that there was abuse. But that is where everything comes to an abrupt halt. The perpetrators are NOT arrested, are NOT even charged, and are NOT held responsible in any way. We all see that. We read the papers and there are reports weekly of maids that are abused. Someone always has an excuse - someone - the sponsor/employers. And the investigators, in order to "save face" which seems to be such an integral part of the way life is, here, shrug their shoulders and sweep incidents of abuse under the proverbial rug. Hello! Anyone out there?!? Saving face, shrugging your shoulders and sweeping shit under the rug does NOT make it go away!!!