Maid works ‘without salary for five years’

Updated 07 December 2013
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Maid works ‘without salary for five years’

A Sri Lankan maid here was not paid a salary for five years and not allowed to go home for nine years, an official from the country’s embassy claimed recently.
“The Sri Lankan woman D. Gunawathie, 43, had been working for a Saudi sponsor and was kept a virtual slave inside the house for the past nine years,” a senior official from the embassy told Arab News on Friday.
He said the case was detected when her passport came up for renewal at the mission. “We normally ask the sponsor to bring the passport holder to the mission to ascertain whether the maid is working without any problems in the Kingdom,” he said. When the sponsor refused to do so, the embassy officials became suspicious.
“The whole thing came out when the sponsor was forced to bring the maid to the mission after a request was made through his recruiting agent,” he said.
He said the maid had claimed her employer and his six children tortured her regularly. The diplomat said there were scars consistent with torture on her body.
Gunawathie told Arab News she had asked her employer to send her home several times. “This fell on deaf ears,” she said.
The average contracted salary for housemaids is SR650 a month. However, employers pay illegal maids up to SR1,500 because they do not have to shoulder recruitment costs of SR10,000, which include visa fees, airfare and agency fees.
The Sri Lankan embassy gets around 10 runaway maids a day, while its consulate in Jeddah receives around two a day.
According to reports, some of the cases are settled at the missions through negotiations with sponsors, while other workers are repatriated home. There are sporadic incidents of death due to murder, suicides and industrial accidents.
Despite the contribution of maids’ remittances, the Sri Lankan government plans to replace them with semi-skilled and skilled professionals.


Saudi Arabia says missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead

Updated 20 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia says missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead

  • The journalist died after a fistfight at the consulate in Istanbul
  • Deputy intelligence chief, royal court adviser removed from positions, 18 Saudis arrested

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday the death of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying a preliminary investigation indicated he lost his life after a fight at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“The discussions between Jamal Khashoggi and those he met at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul... devolved into a fistfight, leading to his death,” the Saudi Press Agency said, citing the public prosecutor.
Eighteen Saudis have been arrested in connection with the incident and the investigation is ongoing, the public prosecutor said.
“The Kingdom expresses its deep regret at the painful developments that have taken place and stresses the commitment of the authorities in the Kingdom to bring the facts to the public opinion, to hold all those involved accountable and bring them to justice,” a statement on the SPA said.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who lived in the US, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the consulate to complete paperwork related to his divorce.
Deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Al-Asiri was removed from his position and Saud Al-Qahtani from his advisory role at the Royal Court, through royal decrees.
Three other intelligence officials who were also sacked have been named as Mohammad bin Saleh Al-Rumaih, Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Shaya and Rashad bin Hamed Al-Muhamadi.
King Salman also ordered the creation of a ministerial committee, headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to restructure the country’s General Intelligence agency and issue the results of its work within a month.
Members of the committee include the interior and foreign ministers as well as the heads of the General Intelligence and State Security.
A team of Saudi investigators were sent to Istanbul and have been working on the case with Turkish detectives, who entered the consulate on Thursday.
Earlier in the week, Saudi Arabia promised a thorough and transparent investigation into what happened to the journalist in Turkey.