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ACTION ALERT! Abuse of Domestic Workers: Ramadan Call for Justice (In Wake of Sri Lankan Maid Abuse in Saudi)


“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” (Sahih International interpretation of the meaning of Surat an-Nisa, Ayah 135)

Sheikh Sami al-Majid:

“Justice is necessitated by nothing other than our shared humanity. We must be just towards all human beings, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. Justice is the greatest means of ensuring human dignity and human rights. Justice is what people ask for and expect from each other, regardless of their affiliations, loyalties, affections, and prejudices.

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“Justice is not something that exists only in the courtroom. It is not something only judges decide. It is the way, we as people should conduct ourselves with each other in the course of our daily lives. We should instill it in our children from the time they are small. It should be the first manner of conduct that our preachers and Islamic workers call people towards. All people should be embraced by it without exception. No one is above justice. No one is excluded from it and no one is exempted from it.”

Statement by 50 year old Sri Lankan maid Ariyawathie, after doctors removed 23 nails which had been hammered into her body while working as a maid in Riyadh:

“I had to work continuously since I had to do the chores of all the occupants and when I wanted to take rest due to tiredness, they inserted the nail in my body as a punishment,” she said. “I had to work from dawn to dusk. I hardly slept. They beat me and threatened to kill me and hide my body.” She added that she arranged her travel documents to return home on her own expense. “They were really devils with no mercy at all,” she said.

Due to the graphic nature of the horrible abuse in this case, this incident is receiving a good deal of media attention. The problem of abuse of domestic workers in many Muslim countries is nothing new, however. Let us hope that increased attention to these cases is a sign that change is beginning to come.

AlJazeera English’s story on this case of torture included the following:

Hussein Shobokshi, a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat, the pan-Arab daily, told Al Jazeera that this “kind of story triggers the talk and debate to improve labour laws in the country. It is an issue that has been discussed for quite some time now through the Sharia Council and Human Rights Commission. You will soon see the ministry of labour, the Shariah Council and the Human Rights Commission jointly activate important rules and regulations in order to prevent such incidents from occurring again and punishing people who are responsible for it. Nowadays, you hear the cases being brought to justice, you hear the issues being put out in the media. This is a novelty; it had not been the case in the past.”

To get a sense of the scope of the problem, here are recent reports from media sources and human rights organizations regarding these issues.

2008 Human Rights Watch Report “As If I Am Not Human: Abuses against Asian domestic workers in Saudi Arabia”

August 1, 2010 New York Times, “Immigrant Maids Flee Lives of Abuse in Kuwait” “Rosflor Armada, who is staying in the Philippines Embassy, said that last year during Ramadan, she cooked all day for the evening meal and was allowed to sleep only about two hours a night. “They said, ‘You will work. You will work.’” She said that she left after her employers demanded that she wash the windows at 3 a.m.”

December 2009 CNN, Spate of suicides by foreign maids in Lebanon sheds light on abuse. “The two leading causes of death for migrants is suicide [and] dying while trying to escape from employers,” said Nadim Houry, Senior Researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Lebanon.

April 2010 Human Rights Watch Report “Slow Reform: Protection of migrant domestic workers in Asia and the Middle East.” “The governments discussed in this report have begun to introduce initiatives to improve the treatment of domestic workers or to prevent and respond to abuse. But change has been slow and incremental, and many of the most critical reforms lag behind, such as including domestic workers in labor laws, divesting the employer of power over the domestic worker’s immigration status, and creating stronger oversight over recruitment processes.”

I do not desire to paint all Arab and Muslim employers with the same brush. I am sure that in many cases the domestic workers are treated as members of the family and are able to improve the situations of their families, no doubt this is why people continue to come seeking work.  The point is that this case is another example of something which is obviously a widespread systemic problem and must be addressed, in the interests of justice. Cases of injustice and oppression are not addressed by ignoring or downplaying them, but must be met with continued attention and demands that the governments involved meet their responsibilities to provide for justice and that all of us as individals examine the way we treat people, especially those over whom we hold power. Any true commitment to justice must be consistent regardless of who the oppressor is and who the victims are or where the oppression takes place. This is something clear in the teachings of Allah and His messenger (sall Allaahu alayhe wa sallam) and it is a standard to which we as Muslims must hold ourselves.

Most of us are familiar with the famous Hilf al-Fudul, an alliance for justice that the Prophet (saw) entered into in Makkah before he (saw) received revelation.  That alliance, which was made by decent people who were outraged by the abuse of someone considered weak in the society, without tribal support to defend his rights, not only called for those who joined not to oppress others themselves, but gave them a personal responsibility to defend the rights of the oppressed who had no one else to  defend them, regardless of religion or tribe.  I encourage people to contact the Embassy of Saudi Arabia and express concern for the treatment of migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and to demand justice for Ariyawathie and all those who have been abused and oppressed.

ACTION ALERT! Contact the Saudi Embassy

Contact information for the embassy is here.  I also encourage people to suggest any other actions that we can take regarding this issue in the comments section.

If the form doesn’t work, pls email:


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Abdul-Malik was born Michael P. Ryan in Chicago, Illinois. His study of African-American history in high school and at DePaul University and his encounter with the life and legacy of Malcolm X (Malik Shabazz) led to his accepting Islam in 1994. He was one of the founding members and is a past President of the Board of Directors of the Inner City Muslim Action Network, IMAN. He is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center and he has been working as an attorney for children in the foster care system in Chicago for the past ten years. In addition to almost anything regarding Islam, his major interests include Irish History, Comparative Religion (especially Judaism), and Historical Mystery Fiction. He will rarely be found without several books that he is currently reading. He also blogs and comments under his kunya and nisba Abu Noor Al-Irlandee.



  1. Hassan Adnan

    August 30, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    This is surely sad. The ones responsible should be questioned rigorously, and should bare the consequences of this atrocity done, if found guilty.

  2. Uthman

    August 30, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    eye for an eye. Nails for nails in the same way. Justice will only then be served.

  3. F

    August 30, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    Domestic workers keep seeking help not because they are treated like family (perhaps rarely) but because their situation is so desperate that not many options are available.

    • Abdul-Malik Ryan

      August 30, 2010 at 2:34 PM


      I agree with you that the reason migrant workers seek work overseas is extreme poverty and lack of opportunity in their home countries. I have no idea how many workers are treated like members of the family although it may be rare, but some are able to financially help their families back home. I welcome further comments about how domestic workers are treated from people with direct experience. Thanks so much for your comment and the opportunity for me to clarify.

      • F

        August 30, 2010 at 8:40 PM

        I hate to admit but for the overwhelming part, the domestic helpers are not treated very well. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are beaten or abused but includes aspects such as:

        1. not paying them well even though the employer can afford to
        2. not giving them time off to see the family
        3. working them long hours without any compensation

        While these might not seem like much against the backdrop of physical abuse, it nonetheless counts towards mistreatment. We have to look no further than the treatment of Anas (ra) by the Prophet (pbuh) for the 10 years they were together.

        I served the Prophet at home and on journeys. By Allah, he never said to me for anything which I did: Why have you done this like this? Or for anything which I did not do: Why have you not done this like this? (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

        I wish this issue was addressed more (along with labor abuse).
        (I have family in the Gulf so I have first and second hand experience with servants there)

  4. Sagal

    August 30, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    Oh how I felt so sad and angry at this family who employed this poor lady. Where is their humanity? They should be punished after they are named and shamed, if the story is true. I heard many stories of how most Saudis mistreat their domestic workers from family relatives who experienced first hand. In fact I have not heard one nice story. I dont want to generalise but almost all stories I have heard was harrowing. This was back in the 1990s.

    Dont they fear Allah SWT? Dont they fear a day where every little thing they did will be presented? SubhannaAllah.

    • Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

      August 30, 2010 at 9:48 PM

      I know plenty examples of good treatment from Saudis to their maids but obviously you wouldn’t hear about those stories in the newspapers. I’m not trying to downplay this real issue but let’s not exaggerate.

      • Hassan Adnan

        August 30, 2010 at 11:09 PM

        True, the charges are not proved yet. And lets not generalize everything on Saudis now. There are good and bad people all around the globe.

  5. Truth

    August 30, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    Al-Qisas. Nails for Nails.

  6. Hfz shakik

    August 30, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    The arabs are famous for generosity whilst giving
    charity yet charity begins at home!
    A reminder for me before anyone else.

  7. Shocked

    August 30, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    These Saudis are the worst in Muslim world… may The curse of ALLAH be on these aggressors who commit these heinous crimes…

    • Amad

      August 31, 2010 at 1:09 AM

      Wow. These are the same Saudis who take care of millions of hujjaj every year. Remember the woman in America who drowned her 5 kids, or the one who microwave-killed her child? Does that make ALL Americans crazy? In America, there was a maid example of a woman being abused by her millionaire Indian (hindu) sponsors. So, this isn’t a race or nationality-specific phenomenon, but an opportunity-driven one, as I explain below.

      However, while we should not generalize, let’s also remember that maid-abuse is indeed a SERIOUS problem in the Middle East. As Muslims, had this maid been our sister in Islam and abused by Sri Lankan Buddhists, I think we would be very mad. The sense of justice should be 360 degrees.

      What we have to remember is that when people don’t fear consequences and of course don’t fear Allah, then they will do the worst things (Lord of Flies is a reminder of that base human instinct). Remember how white Americans treated their black slaves as well as the native population? Until people keep getting away with abuse, and you don’t have a deterrent in place, abuse is only a matter of opportunity. That deterrent needs to be put in place. The Embassies of Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, etc. should also pressure the countries to do something… this may involve setting up a hotline for maids to report abuse in any language without fear of reprisal, etc.

      • Zayna

        August 31, 2010 at 10:35 AM

        The Saudi govt really does not care for the non Muslim govts of Sri Lanka, India and Philippines. Non-muslims are treated like second and third class citizens, and as long as there are needy people that will go to seek employment, the abuse will continue.

        • Mansoor Ansari

          August 31, 2010 at 11:30 AM

          It’s not abt non-muslims. Westerners r non-muslims too but they r threated like royalty.

          The Hierarchy works something like this when it comes to laws:


          • Azwaan

            September 3, 2010 at 1:23 AM

            I totally endorse this view…. if you dont want to see how a muslim should not behave .. living in saudi is a good way to do this.
            Cruelty, lavish lifestyles, rudeness, and racism towards non-arabs (westerns are excempted)

      • Bilal

        September 1, 2010 at 8:20 PM

        Yes but in America, there is accountability, life in prison, death penalty etc. In Saudi Arabia, there’s cover-it-up, ‘dont tell anyone’ and ‘act like nothing happened’. Its truly sickening. How many times have we heard perpetrators being brought to justice for crimes like these, rarely if any. Case in point is in front of you, why is it taking the entire world to tell the government to look into this case and still there is not a word from the government. The perpetrators are not hiding, they go about living their lives with no fear of consequences.

        • Middle Ground

          September 2, 2010 at 10:40 AM


          Bilal hit it on the button. I’ve not lived in Saudi, but I’m sure we have all heard stories about Saudis being favored when it comes to ‘cases’ involving Saudis vs Non Saudis. I can’t see that changing anytime soon. Does anyone know of a case where a non Saudi won over a Saudi?

          • Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

            September 2, 2010 at 11:30 AM

            Not too long ago, two Saudi soldiers were executed for raping an expatriate woman.

          • sabirah

            September 3, 2010 at 5:59 AM

            that’s a common thing in all cultures. a common friend of us was recently told by people in the UK that he can’t be a muslim and should not be spoken to because he doesn’t speak urdu.
            a culture always favours members of it’s own society no matter how bad they are, out of ignorance.

      • sabirah

        September 3, 2010 at 4:56 AM


        How did this thread develop to a Saudi bashing threat?
        People, it’s Ramadhan, we should not just believe any information that’s in the news. I have only made really good experience with Saudis as opposed from what I heard of, but I have made really bad experience with Sri Lankans as opposed from what I heard of (buddhists being the most kind and honest people blah blah, won’t fall for it again for sure after living 7 years with them)
        I had some questions in my mind when I read the stories that are evolving around the interwebs, for instance she made it nicely home through the airport scanners, nobody picked up on the nail in her forehead, or did people think that’s a weird kind of bindi? Would her employer just leave those nails in for everyone to see? For me that sounds like an extortion attept, most likely by her sons. who would dare questioning an innocent old lady?

        • amad

          September 3, 2010 at 5:01 AM

          salam Sr. Sabirah,
          I live in the GCC. If this was an isolated incident, I agree there would be MUCH more reason for skepticism. But this isn’t. I linked in another comment to an article in the Saudi Gazette last year about another torture incident. It is quite common, and the lackadaisical response of authorities is well recognized. Sad really.

          • sabirah

            September 3, 2010 at 5:30 AM

            there are also widespread cases of indonesian domestic workers being abused in Malaysia. I wouldn’t just call Saudi’s the worst muslims in the world. I think it really comes down to people in general taking advantage of someone in vulnerable situation. and of course it’s sad. May Allah guide them on the right path and lead them to understanding and repetance.

        • sabirah

          September 3, 2010 at 6:14 AM

          what i originally tried to say, and I just mean this case of the sri lankan lady, so far it’s just in the news and allegations, and we all would have to guess who’s to blame etc. since we haven’t been there.
          I’m reminded of the surah Sad:

          [Dawud (David)] said (immediately without listening to the opponent): “He has wronged you in demanding your ewe in addition to his ewes. And, verily, many partners oppress one another, except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and they are few.” And Dawud (David) guessed that We have tried him and he sought Forgiveness of his Lord, and he fell down prostrate and turned (to Allah) in repentance.

  8. Starlight

    August 31, 2010 at 12:41 AM

    I’ve met a Saudi family who named their daughter after their Indian maid (out of love for the maid and her contribution to the family). However, what’s sad is – this particular lady didnt get justice in the country she was mistreated in. There is no comprehensive system where such cases will be reported and foreigners in that country don’t always get the same facilities as the natives do. Why did this case get attention only after she came back to Sri Lanka (AlhamduliLlah that she’s still alive)? It’s already late to start setting policies now. But if they are setting the policies – it’s better late than never.

    Definitely the number of cases of abuse is far higher in western world. But, whatever good that is being done by the Muslims are being tainted by these incidents. The preconceived notion about Arabs isn’t helping either. May Allah Give guidance!

    • Hassan Adnan

      August 31, 2010 at 1:01 AM

      Yes. I also think that we need to forgive things. And stop doing things under pressure of just making things look ok to the non-believers or to those who have big mouths.

      • Amad

        August 31, 2010 at 1:12 AM

        “Forgive things”?
        I am sorry but brother, you are not in a position to forgive someone for what you have not undergone. Would you be as forgiving if the maid was your sister?

        This isn’t about the “unbelievers”, this is about the believers. Believers who are just in their affairs and who fear Allah in all matters.

        • Hassan Adnan

          August 31, 2010 at 1:20 AM

          “This is surely sad. The ones responsible should be questioned rigorously, and should bare the consequences of this atrocity done, if found guilty.” This is my first comment. All I wanted to convey in the last comment was that lets us not assume things until the charges are proved, and refrain a little from being coming under pressure of media.

          • Zayna

            August 31, 2010 at 10:42 AM

            I see your point, but abuse is abuse. If not this case, then are many others that are out there. And non-believers and big mouths.. really? They are human as well, people with families, emotions etc, and deserve the same respect, we can’t live in a bubble. Like Br. Amad, said its about the believers are their warped sense of superiority…

      • Hena

        August 31, 2010 at 1:34 AM

        Most of us have heard o studied this hadith, Narrated By Muslim, on the authority of Abu Saeed Al-Khurdari, who said: I heard the messenger of Allah say:

        “Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest of faith.”

        – the minimum we can do right now is write to the embassy and demand action for the sake of Allah.

        Here are a few links to human rights organization working in the Saudi context which people could contact-
        disclaimer- I have no idea want their agenda is so this is just info:

        This group is in Washington D.C. and has some Saudi natives on the board.

        This one operates in Saudi but does not have a license from the Saudi govt.

        Human Rights First Society

        National Society of Human Rights is a semi-government organization in Saudi Arabia

  9. Amad

    August 31, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    Did anyone write to the Saudi Embassy?
    Templates appreciated.

    • reshma

      August 31, 2010 at 7:30 AM

      I tried thrice within the span of two hours in vain, each time i got a ‘dns error, server not found ‘message. did anyone succeed in submitting their complaint?

      • Abdul-Malik Ryan

        August 31, 2010 at 12:51 PM

        The form on the site wasn’t working for me either. I sent an email directly to

        • Abdul-Malik Ryan

          August 31, 2010 at 12:57 PM

          This is what I wrote:

          As salaamu ‘alaykum and Ramadan Mubarak! I recently read about an incident where a Sri Lankan woman working as a maid was tortured in Saudi Arabia. I also did research and found out about many other incidents of migrant domestic workers not having their rights protected in Saudi Arabia. I would appeal to you to communicate to your government that American Muslims are very concerned about such reports and request that government officials in Saudi Arabia do whatever they can to address these injustices.

          Abdul-Malik Ryan
          Associate Writer at

          • iMuslim

            September 1, 2010 at 10:54 AM

            I just got round to writing to them now. I hope they take heed, insha’Allah. It’s not about PR, it’s about protecting the weak from the strong, which is a principle at the very heart of Islam.

  10. Amad

    August 31, 2010 at 1:51 AM

  11. Fuad Hasan

    August 31, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    These incidents are quite common in Saudi arabia for the Lack of proper laws, rules, regulations and a severe lack of willingness to create and implement proper measures. I wonder, if this incidents were not made popular by media, would the police have arrested the perpetraitors? People from 3rd world country such as bangladesh, india, srilanka, philipines are poor and desperate. They want to work and earn a living. So they go to saudiarabia and UAE thinking that a fortune is waiting for them. But when they understand what situation they are in , the misery from abuse and ill treatment knows no bounds. Saudiarab may be a rich country but the human rights situation is utterly pathetic.

    This is my question to saudi people: in the future oil wells will dry up, petro dollars will stop coming. You would have to stop your care free life and you will no longer have the luxury to turn a blind eye to the outside world affairs. AND THEN, america will suddenly become very interested to bring “true democracy” in your country. Are you waiting for that day?

  12. Al-Madarasi

    August 31, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    I don’t think such a horrific, insane, let alone unislamic, thing would have happened even during jahilliyyah, nailing into the bodies. May Allah guide them to the right path.

    • Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

      August 31, 2010 at 12:54 PM

      People buried their own daughters in jâhiliyyah times.

      • Al-Madarasi

        September 1, 2010 at 9:36 AM

        I don’t think they tortured their guests or workers (or even slaves) like nailing so that they can endure the pain for the rest of their lives.

        • Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

          September 2, 2010 at 11:35 AM

          Brother, what’s the point of repeating the exact same point?

          I think my point is clear that burying your own daughter alive is much more heinous than this alleged crime, as horrific as it certainly is.

          As for your question, then yes the Quraysh absolutely tortured their slaves for non-compliance. Some of them even tortured their own children for proclaiming Islâm.

  13. Mansoor Ansari

    August 31, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    My 2 cents mite worth something here… i was born & bought up in Saudi Arabia. I m not a Saudi but my mom a Yemeni and many in her extended family are Saudis. My wife is also Khaleeji so I had the opportunity to witness what happens on the other side of the fence.

    Does abuse of domestic workers occur? Yes but it doesn’t happen in every home as many believe. I know of Saudis who have married their maids & treat them very well. I know of Saudi kids who treat their maids like their mothers. I know of Saudis who also employed the husbands of these maids so that they r alone. I have not witnessed physical abuse amongst my in-laws or mom’s extended family. But I have witnessed non-payment of wages & being overtly strict with the movement of their maids. They don’t pay their maids as many r just horrible at money management… they 1st do all their shopping & expect to pay the amid last but guess what, they don’t have money left to pay her. This goes on till the maid runs away or at times becomes lazy/disobedient which leads to physical abuse. In regards to being strict with the movement… the reason is they pay upto 20000 riyals to sponsor a maid and many do run away either to wrk as a maid smwhr else & many times to wrk in illegal establishments. When that happens, the employers looses out big time, 1st monetarily & getting a visa next time becomes an issue. I don’t agree with how they control the movement but I know whr they r coming from. My mom’s aunt got a maid from Sri Lanka, and she ran away after 2 days. It was all preplanned as she had accomplice already in the country.

    I can vouch for my in-laws…. the maid eat with them on the same table, dresses the same way, etc. And what i like is the rule they have abt men in the house. No man can alone in any room with the maid, if the maid is working then he can’t enter unless he has a kid who’s old to understand rite/wrong or a woman of the house. And if the maid is alone in the house & the women of the house have to go somewhr then the men can’t b in house either. They don’t want any fitnah whatsoever. alhmd the men r very co-operative.

    The notion that the maids r timid & always obedient is not actually true.. in many houses they maid has full control & wrk when she wants & at times doesn’t wrk at all. These employers r not stern to begin with & r taken advantage of big time. There r numerous cases of maids abusing the children (not sexually) to get revenge at the parents.

    The justice system is not fair, Saudis do get away with lot of things and that does give them a sense of entitlement. This leads to them not caring abt what will happen if they abuse the maid as the they don’t fear getting punished. This has to change first if we expect any change on how maids r treated. On paper there r laws but the police & courts r not enforcing them.

    I suggestion would be for Khaleejis to get rid of their maids & start doing ur own wrk.

  14. Hassan

    August 31, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    Cough cough, google this : sialkot killing

    • Abdul-Malik Ryan

      August 31, 2010 at 1:03 PM

      Hassan, I’m sure most of us who follow news on the internet are aware of the horrific killings in Sialkot. I am not sure what your comment means or what it has to do with this post. Maybe you can clarify?

  15. Umm Ibraheem

    August 31, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    I have just moved to Jeddah from UK 5 months ago. I have to say this system of maids and drivers is truly a culture shock for me.

    I can’t believe the amount of work an average maid is expected to do for pittance! The justification is that the amount converts to a lot more in her native country. The going rate for a full time maid in Jeddah is 1200 -1500 riyals (about £200-£250 a month). For this amount she is the full time nanny, cook and housecleaner. She gets one day off every fortnight.

    Whenever I am out in malls and restaurants I observe the interaction of these maids and their employers. Usually, the maid is an Indonesian, has an utterly miserable look on her face, is tagging behind the family carrying the youngest on her hip or pushing the trolley.

    Illegal maids (the ones who come for Umrah and overstay) can be paid even less. Maids from the Sindh are common in Jeddah, they are usually paid 300 riyals (£50) a month, for working 3 hours a day, 6 days a week. They normally cover 4 households a day, so end up earning the same amount as a full time maid but with some more autonomy in their lives.

    Having a maid entitles one to a more leisurely lifestyle and the luxury to pursue their goals. Many mothers here in Jeddah are leaving their kids with their maids for long periods in order to work or study. These mothers do not have to cook, clean and have limited duties towards their kids.

    I have opted not to have a maid because we value our privacy and also I fear that I will may relinquish my duties as a mother once she steps in. This decision is making life in Jeddah a lot harder for me as the norm is to have a maid. As a result, I do not have an immaculate house as I do not have the time to keep up with the dusting ( and believe me the amount of dust is phenomenal) , and am also unable to attend quran /arabic classes as I cannot afford to take that much time away from household duties. I cannot produce extravagant meals for guests as is also the norm in Jeddah as I don’t have a maid at my disposal.

    Anyway, these were a few of my ramblings, based on my 5 month experience in the Kingdom.

    • Mansoor Ansari

      August 31, 2010 at 1:16 PM

      1200-1500 riyals salary for a maid is the standard but they also get free lodging & food which is part of the package. Sectaries, receptionists start at abt 3000 riyals.. so i would not say the salary is bad.

      These full time maids don’t get a brk till 2 yrs which really sucks.

      Some part-time maids do end making really good money especially during peak demand times (Ramadan & Eids)

    • Amad

      September 1, 2010 at 1:35 AM

      There is a difference between maltreatment of maids and making a case that the wages are not commensurate to their work.

      You mentioned the justification and then you seem to have dismissed it. In fact, I would say that they are BETTER OFF, not worse off, if people like you hired them and treated them well for the “pittance”. Economics is all about opportunity cost (=alternatives).

      For instance, in Pakistan, a full-time maid makes anywhere between 5000 and 10000 rupees or $80 to $120/mth. The expat maids in the Gulf make between $200 (lower than your range) and $400. However, the cost to the employer is much more. Agency fees/visas, etc generally are about $2500 (covering 2 years of contractual employment). In addition, employers are responsible for housing, food and repatriation. In other words, the wages they get are 95% savings to be sent “back home”. So, an employer’s cost is above $500/mth.

      Let’s take Indonesian maids for instance:

      Average per capita for Indonesia is about $200/mth. And that’s average. So, maids (unskilled labor) would fall much lower. In fact, 15% of Indonesians (33 million) are below the poverty levels defined by Indonesia at $22/mth! [Source]. So $200 is 10x the poverty level.

      My point is wages need to be examined on a “real” level, not “nominal” level. Furthermore, you are free to give them gifts and beyond that, sadaqa and zakat. If you are not comfortable with a maid for privacy and parenting reasons, I respect and commend you for that. But I am uncomfortable on making a case that the wages are unjust.

  16. abdullah

    August 31, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    Dear all!
    I would like to start with the Islamic greetings ASSALAMU ALLAIKUM ! as Saudi Arabia ! is a Muslim country and the place ware our beloved prophet Muhammad sal (peace be upon him) lived. i am ashamed about our muslim brother and sisters who did this cruel act ! if the government of saudi arabia wants to prove our religion with its true color! they should find the correct person who is responsible and serve the lady with justice! whar then our other man kind will not talk bad about our Muslim community !

  17. Ummi Huraira

    August 31, 2010 at 10:33 PM

    While I do not paint all Saudis with the same brush, this is a major social problem in the Gulf. Even during ramadan, some maids are treated badly if not worse. Do these particular Saudis really think their fast will be accepted when they are mistreating their maids at the same time? Often times, having one human being in complete domination over the other brings out the worst in people.

    • Abdul-Malik Ryan

      September 2, 2010 at 1:11 PM

      Jazzaki Allahu Khayr for your comments. I have to agree that in researching this article it particularly saddened and haunted me the quotes of the workers who would talk about how things would get worse in Ramadan.

  18. F

    September 1, 2010 at 6:43 AM

    I agree with the poster that said people should learn to do their own work around the house instead of out sourcing it to maids.

  19. h

    September 1, 2010 at 8:33 PM

    Saudi official denies Sri Lankan maid was abused

    waAllahu a’lam…

    • Middle Ground

      September 2, 2010 at 10:41 AM


      So I guess the maid hired a jinn to put those nails inside her…

      • sabirah

        September 3, 2010 at 10:38 PM

        people do anything for money. it could well be done by her son in order to claim money from them. Nails in body may sound quite shocking in the first instance, but there are enough piercing studios that do much worse stuff. How many people break their own arms or hands to get time off work or claim insurance money? I have seen cases like that as a nurse

        • Azwaan

          September 6, 2010 at 12:39 AM

          The sri lankan doctors who have operated to remove the nails and have already said that the wounds are atleast 2 weeks old when they first inspected it 2 days after she landed in SL. this is as the wound was already healed by that time. Note the maid arrived back in SL on aug 21.
          As for the people who say she should have been detected on airport scanners.. anybody who have been to sri lanka will know that arriving passengers do not go through airport scanners, is only done for passengers departing or in transit.
          i would also like to ask these saudi defenders why their officials would dismiss this case when no proper investigation has been done. is this how officials behave?

          Also saudi has a history of such incidents and not punishing the culprits.. take the case of indonesian maid myati.. and how that went.. i’m ashamed as a muslim when i see this

    • amad

      September 2, 2010 at 11:33 AM

      State of denial… honestly, in order to protect their own, they will not even do a proper investigation! Shame!

      Reminds me of the Abu Dhabi prince who got away with similar brutality.

      When nations start allowing injustice to go unhindered, whether a Muslim or a non-Muslim nation, Allah’s wrath will not be far behind.

      May Allah bring justice to the Sri Lankan maid and all other maids who have suffered injustice, whether in this duniya (for the perpetrators own good) or the akhira!

    • Abdul-Malik Ryan

      September 2, 2010 at 1:08 PM

      There should be an unbiased investigation into this incident and justice should be done.

      However, the reason why I included all those reports in my post was to show that this is a systemic and ongoing problem, not just in KSA, but in many other countries in the region.

      As I mentioned in my post, all the govenrments involved should focus on ending the very real abuses that do exist and protecting the rights of all humans in their countries, and the reputation of those countries and governments will continue rightly to suffer as long as the problems exist.

      Allah knows best.

    • A white brother

      September 3, 2010 at 8:30 AM

      OK, so its well known that, in many areas of the peninsula, non-khaleejis are like second class citizens and dark skinned desis are treated the worst.

      HOWEVER, there are things about this story that just don’t add up.

      1. How was she able to pass a metal detector/airport security with 23 metal nails inside of her?

      2. How did she avoid infection if they were hammered into her and she had no medical treatment for an extended period? ESPECIALLY given that some looked to be in places where there would be constant pressure on the wounds (soles of the feet).

      What I do know is that she (a non muslim) said something and muslims say something else. I’m no fan of pampered, spoiled folks but we must take a step back and think here.

      At the end of the day though, khaleeji treatment of non-khaleejis must be spoken about though.

      • Azwaan

        September 6, 2010 at 12:49 AM

        If you look at this thread , you will see that it is muslims themselves thats defending her.. this is no case of muslim vs non-muslim.
        arriving passengers in SL airport do not have to go through airport scannners, this is only done for departing and transit passengers. muslims in sri lanka are themselves angered and disgusted at saudi officials
        Another nail in the coffin of how muslims are perceived around the world.

    • Zayna

      September 3, 2010 at 12:47 PM

      seriously and we wonder why Muslims are painted as barbarians and looney toones of the world.. Allahualam..

  20. AsimG

    September 2, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    This is absolutely disgusting and it is not something new.

    I don’t think there are, in general, a people in the world that are obsessed with nationalism/racism as the Arabs (and I have had this heard this from Arabs!)

    There’s no excuse. I don’t want to hear about how some treat them like family. When there are famous Shuyookh across the aqeedah spectrum who have have felt and publicly spoken against the growing racism in the Middle East, you know this is a problem.

  21. Ranatunga

    September 6, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    Doesnt matter how many good Saudis there are.

    Pepertrators of crime should be punished. I have never heard (ever) that any Saudi getting punished for killing a maid. (human being).

    I am not a Muslim. It seems that when a Muslim kills a non Muslim it is ok.

    Just imagine how if India and Sri Lanka were to adopt such law.

    Just punish the criminals.

    • Amad

      September 7, 2010 at 1:05 AM

      I am not a Muslim. It seems that when a Muslim kills a non Muslim it is ok.

      Ranatunga, this is a Muslim site and clearly we are not saying it is okay what happened to the lady. In fact, we are calling out to all people of conscience to contact the Saudi embassy to make sure proper justice is carried out. This should show to you that justice is meant for all human beings, and even for animals. That is what our religion teaches.

  22. Ranatunga

    September 6, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    I just want to add one more thing.

    If you are a Saudi, do you really want this mosntrous couple walking the streets?

    If I know that a certain Sri lankan in my neighbohood have done horrible tings to a foreigner I would be very scared of him and would want him in a jail.

    If he can torture a foreigner he may very well torture a countryman.

  23. Azad Ibrahim

    September 7, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    I am not saying that the Saudis are right. But then again:

    • Amad

      September 7, 2010 at 9:20 AM

      Allah u alam…

      But enough documentation to know that this isn’t an isolated incident. We should focus on the big picture here, and how maid abuse is a problem in GCC.

      • Abdul-Malik Ryan

        September 7, 2010 at 9:31 AM


        Brothers and sisters, I welcome any updates on this specific case, but I hope that many of us went beyond the sensationalism of this particular story and read through some of the reports that I linked to. There is much more available on line as well.

        I know that most people who read these posts don’t even comment, and sometimes people comment to clear up questions they have, which is good, but I have to say that my post was not meant to be exclusively about this one case, nor was it meant to bash Saudis. I think either of these routes are just distractions from the reality that there is a well documented problem of the abuse of and injustice towards human beings in Saudia Arabia and many other countries populated by Muslims. Let us all call for justice for the oppressed and the weak in those places and let us seek to treat everyone we come across in our own daily lives with dignity and respect.

        Jazzakum Allahu Khayr for everyone who commented, especially for those who shared their personal experiences. I learned a lot.

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