A Filipino domestic worker has died in hospital after being gang-raped by her Saudi employer. Will her employer face the death penalty for not one but two crimes: rape and murder? If the past is any guide, this is highly unlikely since punishment is meted out only to domestic servants, not Saudi criminals. Most of the 180 or so people executed this year have been of foreign workers.
Saturday August 20, 2016, 09:39 DST
A domestic worker from the Philippines, 35-year-old Irma Avila Edloy, raped by her Saudi employer, succumbed to injuries and died in a Riyadh hospital. The Philippines Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre "Bebot" Bello III revealed this in a radio interview from Jeddah on August 19. He said that Edloy died at the King Salman Hospital in Riyadh because of severe injuries. She had told the nurse at the hospital that her employer had raped her before she slipped into coma.
Bello said in the radio interview: “Before she went unconscious, the nurse told me that the employer went there which elicited a reaction from Irma. The employer allegedly appeared tense and left. And when the nurse asked her if she was maltreated, she pointed to her employer.”
The Philippines Labour Secretary was in Saudi Arabia to arrange for the repatriation of an estimated 11,000 Filipino workers dismissed from work because of the sharp decline in construction activity. This has come about as a result of the precipitous fall in oil prices and staggering loss of revenue for the Saudi regime.
Tens of thousands of workers from other countries including Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India have also been laid off. Some are on the verge of starvation because they do not have money to buy food much less a ticket to return home. The Saudi regime affords no protection to workers. In any case, they do not consider foreign workers from third world countries as humans.
While rape is punishable by beheading in the medieval kingdom, it is often the poor workers that pay the price.
Regarding the dead domestic worker, Bello hinted that Edloy may have been the victim of gang rape due to the extent of her injuries.
Meanwhile, Philippines Congressman Aniceto “John” Bertiz, of ACTS-Overseas Filipino Workers (ACTS-OFW), said that Edloy had a stroke when her employer visited her at the hospital, calling for efforts to prevent her case from being “buried and forgotten.”
The Foreign Affairs spokesman in Manila, Charles Jose announced “there will be legal action against the [Saudi] perpetrator, especially if the legal report indicates that the Philippine worker died of her wounds caused by maltreatment.”
The Saudis are notorious for obfuscating facts especially relating to foreign domestic workers. There is no codified judicial system; the judge’s whim passes for law. Often, the judges are not trained in law; they occupy the post because they are related to some prince or a favor needs to be done to them.
While rape is punishable by beheading in the medieval kingdom, it is often the poor workers that pay the price. Had Edloy survived, she would almost certainly have been accused of enticing her employer to rape her and would have faced the sharp edge of the sword in a public square.
As for her rapist employer, will he be punished? This is highly unlikely. Here is why. In 2012, Layhan al-Ghamdi, a Saudi celebrity preacher accused his five-year-old daughter Lamha of losing her virginity by committing adultery!
He then raped her and beat her so badly that the poor girl’s back was broken and her skull was crushed. She died in hospital a few days later.
Ghamdi was arrested but a few weeks later when he appeared in court, the judge said he had been “punished enough” and set him free. There was outrage in the kingdom and people sent messages to the Interior Minister demanding justice.
Ghamdi was re-arrested and this time the judge ordered him to pay $270,000 in blood money to the dead girl’s mother that Ghamdi had divorced. He was also sentenced to 12 years in jail and 850 lashes.
What happened next? While Ghamdi paid the $270,000 fine (most likely the regime paid on his behalf) but he was not lashed and at a subsequent court appearance in August 2015, the judge set him free saying there was no evidence of rape since no semen was found on the dead girl’s body.
This outrageous verdict was delivered despite the autopsy report clearly indicated the girl had been raped. In any case, the poor child was beaten to death. Is there no punishment for such barbarism?