Indonesian maid tortured by Saudi employer: rights group

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 12 2009 06:40 PM | Updated as of Jan 13 2009 02:40 AM

RIYADH - An Indonesian maid was repeatedly burned with an iron by her Saudi employer who also poured household cleaning agents on her wounds, a US rights group charged on Monday.

In an open letter to the Indonesian and Saudi governments, Human Rights Watch said Keni binti Carda, 28, was also forced to eat faeces and had her teeth broken and forced down her throat by her employers in the Saudi city of Medina.

The group called on authorities to prosecute her employers for what it called "unacceptable abuse and mutilation."

"We urge the Saudi and Indonesian authorities to coordinate to investigate this case, prosecute the abusers in accordance with international standards, and provide financial compensation and appropriate support services to the victim," the letter said.

HRW said the governments should use the case to demonstrate that abuse of domestic workers, who number in the millions in Saudi Arabia, is not tolerated.

Contacted by Agence France-Presse, Indonesian diplomat Adi Zulfuat said the embassy in Riyadh was looking into the case.

According to HRW, Keni binti Carda, from Bresbes, Java, began working in Saudi Arabia in July 2008 for the family of Khalid and Wafa al-Khuraifi. It said the abuse began in September, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, when her employers became angry over an official increase in her contract wage rate.

The abuse left the maid with extensive scarring and impaired vision in one eye, HRW said. Wafa al-Khuraifi "beat her own children when they tried to protest" at the treatment of the maid "and threatened Keni with a grisly death if she tried to escape," it added.

It said that that based on her account of events, she was finally driven to the airport by her employer to return to Indonesia in October, and that Khuraifi "threatened to have Saudi police imprison her if she reported the abuse."

She was finally treated at a special clinic for returning migrant Indonesian workers when she returned to Jakarta.

Mistreatment of foreign workers, especially household maids, has become a big issue in Saudi Arabia. In December Labour Minister Ghazi al-Gosaibi warned against growing racism towards the millions of foreign workers in the kingdom.