The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.
In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.
King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh has a wonderful immigration hall. Palm trees, fountains, marble; you really want to linger there. And if you don't have a Saudi passport, you will. For up to 3 hours, if you're unlucky. It's our bureacracy at work. You'll get checked thru the computer, which is slow. And if the immigration guard takes a call on his mobile from a friend, you'll have to wait until he finishes. A consultant came to our company from Norway; he said he was held for 20 miinutes at the desk because the guy had never heard of his country, couldn't find it in the database.
Anyway, a common sight there is a 747-load of newly-arrived Indonesian housemaids, all sitting patiently on the floor, and being herded by a Saudi "agent". They've just arrived from some small village on some island, where they were dirt-poor and no doubt a burden on their family, to seek a new life and the opportunity to send money home. This will be their first sight of a modern city, a washing mashine, a cooker, an electric kettle. Typically their own accomodation will be a windowless corrugated-iron box on top of the roof of the house where they work. Imagine that in the summer! And when the family go out, they are locked inside.
It is estimated that within 12 months, 20 - 30 % will have escaped. Why? A combination of 3 reasons:
- They never got paid. They got fed and housed, but not paid.
- the woman of the house got irritated at her slowness, and started hitting her. Or maybe she didn't need an excuse. Then the children join in.
- the man of the house, or the son, or both, raped her. Maybe she got pregnant, and was thrown out. Maybe she decided to get out before that happened.
So there's a stream of escaping housemaids. Where do they go?. Well, not the Indonesian Embassy, they're too craven towards the "Land of the Two Holy Mosques", looking out for the next handout so they can build another mosque. Some just move on to another household. Some are very lucky and fall in with unofficial charities that provide a safe house, somewhere to have the baby, and a ticket home. And some are not so lucky...
40 Arrested for Running Brothel in Jeddah District
JEDDAH, 11 April 2004 — Police have arrested more than 40 men and women of different nationalities for allegedly running a brothel, Al-Watan reported yesterday.
The arrests were made in cooperation with officials of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice after a number of suspicious activities had been observed.
The alleged prostitutes, mostly Indonesians, were using flats in a residential building in Al-Salama neighborhood, the paper said. Police raided the building and arrested men and women suspected of engaging in immoral activity.
Initial investigations showed that an Indonesian woman was employing runaway maids in the business. According to a police official, the majority of those arrested were women.
Note the slightly sanctimonious tone of the article; this is Third World nationals running a brothel, nothing to do with we Saudis. But this is a problem that we make, and for these poor women, prostitution is the end of the line.
It's another national disgrace. If we were any other country, there would be investigative newspaper articles and TV documentaries. But we keep it swept under the carpet.