Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

Zooming In

March 25, 2007

Housecleaner Abuse in Saudi Arabia

Gelf highlights overlooked coverage from local media around the world. In this edition: House cleaners continually suffer abuse; a giant frozen squid needs thawing; and two Belgian women make their way around the world without a motor.

Hadley Robinson

Some of the most insightful writing from outside the U.S. comes from local media. In this occasional feature, Gelf identifies noteworthy stories that haven't gotten much attention outside local borders.

Graphic created by Paul Antonson
"Unfortunately, people here are very cruel to maids. They treat them with suspicion and abuse them in many ways."—Source from the Indonesian Embassy on abusing foreign house cleaners in Saudi Arabia

Graphic created by Paul Antonson

Saudi Arabia

Last week a Saudi teacher confessed to abusing his Indonesian house keeper, according to the Arab News. The teacher caused broken ribs, a broken wrist, and burns. This case is disturbing, but not unusual. Human Rights Watch noted in a December report that it receives hundreds of grievances about the treatment of housemaids. The Indonesian Embassy said it receives about 10 complaints each day from house cleaners in Saudi Arabia.
Foreign workers, many from Indonesia and Sri Lanka, pour into countries like Saudi Arabia enticed by the promise of money and a better life. They are usually sponsored by agencies or individuals, but that doesn't keep them safe. In one case in September, also covered by the Arab News, a sponsor's wife injured the housekeeper so badly that she went to the hospital to receive treatment.
Besides physical abuse, maids report working extremely long hours and not being paid. Some are kept locked in the house because so many attempt escape, the Arab News reports.
This trend continued into the US last year when a Saudi man in Aurora, Colorado, was sentenced to 28 years to life in prison for keeping an Indonesian woman as a sex slave.
These abuses have been going on for years and seem to be getting worse. A source from the Indonesian embassy told the Arab News, "Unfortunately, people here are very cruel to maids. They treat them with suspicion and abuse them in many ways. Even when we file a complaint on behalf of a maid or ask for information on a case at the police, the police treat the matter with disdain.”


Two environmentally conscious Belgian women, Nicole Diercks and Ingrid De Wilde, are traveling around the world without using any motorized vehicles. They have just reached Vietnam, the 25th country in their adventure. According to the Thanh Nien News, Diercks and De Wilde will spend several weeks crossing the country by bicycle and cyclo. They have traveled to parts of Europe, the Middle East, and central Asia en route to Vietnam. They've ridden donkeys, camels, and horses; they've roller bladed, biked, and paddled.

New Zealand

A colossal squid weighing 1,089 lbs, measuring 10 feet long and believed to be the biggest squid ever found, was caught by New Zealand fishermen off the coast of Antarctica in February. The massive squid has been frozen in New Zealand ever since, but scientists now want to thaw it to study the rare specimen. Exactly how to do that is tricky because the researchers want no part of the squid to rot before the entire thing defrosts. The best idea right now is a gigantic microwave. Steve O'Shea of the Auckland University of Technology told the BBC, "There are certain microwave equivalents that are used by industry, for treating timber and the like, that we could probably fit this thing into."


Zimbabwe's Catholic archbishop, Pius Ncube, is vowing to lead protests to remove President Robert Mugabe from power. Political parties within the country have been trying to unseat Mugabe from power for many years. Archbishop Ncube has long spoke out against Mugabe, but recently announced he will play a more-active role, comparing himself to Cardinal Jaime Sin, who helped rid the Philippines of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the 1980s. Mugabe has been president of Zimbabwe since 1980, when the country first gained independence. Under his power Zimbabwe has the highest rate of inflation in the world, nationwide hunger, and an HIV epidemic. Under the pretense of security and suppressing rebellions, Mugabe's government has killed tens of thousands of civilians. In a briefing in Johannesburg last week, covered by Inter Press Service, Ncube said, "I am prepared to lead the people against Mugabe. Like in the Philippines, our security forces will side with us if we are courageous."


According to a story in the Jerusalem Post, racial profiling in Israeli airports is crucial. Non-Jewish passengers, and particularly Arabs, are treated with much greater suspicion than Jewish passengers. Security officials claim profiling is necessary because it reflects the demographics of terrorists targeting Israel. A former airport security examiner told the Jerusalem Post, "A Jew would only be coming here because he loves Israel, and he wouldn't commit a terrorist act. You can't make that same assumption about… Arabs or non-Jews."

Hadley Robinson

Hadley Robinson is a Gelf contributor and a staff writer for the
Webster Times.

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- Zooming In
- posted on Oct 20, 07
dewa ayu rini pramudani

Regarding to news about Indonesia house keeper abusing, I feel so sad to hear that. I'm one of Indonesia Woman who work in four stars hotel in Sumatera. I can not stop to think about so many bad things happened to Indonesia woman in other country. They left their husband and children, a family that she really love to... just to get a better life and earn much money. But in a fact, they never take their own salary from the employer for long time and they got a very bad treatment like abusing and even raped. They went to Malaysia, Singapore and Saudi Arabia with debt with agencies in Indonesia. Sometimes we never know what is gonna hapen or just happened to them, they become disapear, never send a letter to their family, never make a call, and suddenly we got a very bad news that she was suicide by jump from a high flat. They can not even survive and struggle with the abusing, they just a woman who weak, they doesn't even eat daily, they become thinner and depressed because they have no way to run.
They are uneducated woman,they can not speak Arabian, English, or Malay so they can not talk to someone to ask their help and talking about the employer bad habits.

I hope it's not gonna lasts forever, stop crime, could you imagine if it hapenend to your wife or your sister???

God bless you,

Dewa Ayu Rini Pramudani, SE

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Article by Hadley Robinson

Hadley Robinson is a Gelf contributor and a staff writer for the
Webster Times.

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