Citing lack of job choices, some women college grads wash cadavers

Updated 09 May 2015
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Citing lack of job choices, some women college grads wash cadavers

Several unemployed Saudi women have been forced to work as washers of dead bodies in hospitals and other centers.
Salwa Al-Qahtani, director of the women’s section at Asir Municipality, said most of the women coming forward to take up the work of body washing have an intermediate school certificate or university degree. While some of them take the task as a charitable service, others are driven to the job by poverty. The municipality supervises washing establishments in the province.

There are a number of body-washing centers that work as charitable endowments where body washers are employed adhering to certain procedures with licenses issued by competent authorities or courts.

Women can become qualified for the work by attending a training program on ritual cadaver washing organized by the Dawa centers of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance and obtain a certificate to show that they have completed training.
A supervisor at a body-washing unit, Maodi Abdul Aziz, 29, said “I have a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies, but the difficulty in getting a job in my field forced me to look for a job in the washing center as many university graduates do, especially if your are from a poor background.”
She said the monthly salary she receives is SR2,000 including a transport allowance even though her responsibility is huge. She decries the social attitude of looking at those who practice this job as inferior creatures.
Fatima Abdul Salam,35, holder of a bachelor’s degree in Arabic language from King Abdul Aziz University, is unhappy about her present job of washing cadavers. She said one of the major problems she faces is the negative attitude of her neighbors and other members of society about her profession.
She said she unsuccessfully waited for nine years after graduation to get a good government job with the help of the Civil Service Ministry but eventually lost hope and turned to this job which most people hate to take up.
Suad Ali, 36, who has a bachelor’s degree in special education from King Abdul Aziz University and is now working as washer of bodies, said: “I am divorced and have been working in this field for four years. I looked for a good job for many years and in the meantime I was divorced. I had to feed my three children who are in my custody and I did not have any other income. This is the only work available for me and I have no other choice but to accept it because of my poor circumstances.”
Another cadaver washer, Umm Taif, said washing the dead requires patience and courage to bear the sight of mutilated bodies, especially those who died in traffic accidents. “On one occasion, a woman who died in a traffic accident, with some body parts missing, was brought to us. I patiently washed and shrouded it,” she said.


KSRelief 45-vehicle aid convoy heads to Hodeidah

KSRelief General Supervisor Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah speaks to media in Riyadh on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 29 min 4 sec ago
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KSRelief 45-vehicle aid convoy heads to Hodeidah

  • Al-Rabeeah said KSRelief had carried out a total of 262 aid projects in all governorates of Yemen
  • Al-Rabeeah called on international humanitarian organizations to provide relief assistance to the people of Yemen.

RIYADH: A 45-vehicle aid convoy carrying 924 tons of foodstuffs, medical and housing supplies left Saudi Arabia for the Yemeni province of Hodeidah on Wednesday.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, KSRelief general supervisor, said that 18 of the trucks were sent from Sharurah, 15 from Jazan and 12 from Riyadh.

The convoy included 595 tons of food baskets, 186 tons of dates, 95 tons of medicines, and 48 ​​tons of shelter materials, tents, rugs and blankets for the residents of the province of Hodeidah.

Al-Rabeeah said KSRelief had carried out a total of 262 aid projects in all governorates of Yemen.

He called on international humanitarian organizations to provide relief assistance to the people of Yemen.

The Arab coalition has secured all Yemeni crossings for humanitarian aid to alleviate Yemeni people’s suffering caused by violations committed by the Iran-backed Houthi militias, who have been looting humanitarian aid to Yemen, Al-Rabeeah said.

 “We have been always by the side of Yemeni civilians. Our prime goal is to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Yemen in general and Hodeidah in particular. We will use all transportation means, land, air or seaports, to help our brothers and sisters in Hodeidah,” he added. 

“We are welcoming coordination with the international humanitarian organizations to have a joint effort that will definitely pour into the civilians in Hodeidah to reduce the humanitarian crisis there as the coalition has expressed its full readiness to protect the aid and facilitate the means to reach different destinations,” Al-Rabeeah said.

Abdulsalam Babood, senior official to the Yemeni government and a member of Yemeni Relief Committee, said: “On behalf of my country and the Yemeni people, I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to King Salman and the crown prince for their unmatched generosity and unwavering support to the Yemeni civilians in terms of medical supplies and food and other needed items for survival.

“Hodeidah has been suffering from the humanitarian crisis over the past three years due to the full control imposed by the Houthi militants on them. Starvation and the big shortage in medical supplies and medications and huge environmental issues are the main struggles of the people there. International reports estimate that 61 percent of people in Hodeidah are in urgent need of essential supplies. We then put a plan to cope with this humanitarian crisis.”