Monday, July 15, 2013

Emotional farewell for Syrian girl stabbed by Ethiopian housemaid in Riyadh

The 10-year-old girl Isra was killed by the maid last week as she was sleeping. She was hit with an iron object and stabbed.
Manama: Mourners struggled to hide their emotions as Isra, the 10-year-old Syrian girl killed last week by her Ethiopian domestic helper, was laid to rest in the Saudi capital Riyadh. A large number of people from the Syrian community mixed with other expatriates and Saudi citizens gathered at Nasseem Cemetery to pray for the girl reportedly killed as part of rituals conducted by the helper, local news site Sabq reported.
Reports said that the helper hit Isra as she was sleeping with an iron object before she stabbed her several times, mainly in her throat. The helper reportedly later said that she heard a voice commanding her to kill the young girl. The father said that he was still under the shock of his daughter’s murder and that his family had treated the helper well and paid her salary on time. The maid had been with the family for a few months.
The murder caused an uproar in Saudi Arabia and several voices have issued calls to ban domestic labour from Ethiopia, arguing that Ethiopians had been implicated in gruesome murders as well. “We must stop recruiting helpers from Ethiopia immediately,” Sa’ad Al Baddah, the head of the national recruitment commission, said. “We have to reassess the situation following the increase in the number of child killings in Saudi Arabia since mid-2011 when Ethiopian helpers were allowed into the kingdom. We are now hearing justifications that the killing of a child was a sacrifice. Such beliefs are held by some of the workers or helpers affiliated to specific religions in some villages in Ethiopia,” he said, quoted by local daily Al Sharq.
Al Baddah added that all six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) should conduct tests to ensure that the expatriate helpers they recruit are physically and psychologically fit to work in the Gulf countries and that they are not likely to commit crimes. “Saudi Arabia recruits 80,000 male and female workers from various nationalities every month,” he said.
Social network users have also been pushing for making psychology tests mandatory for domestic helpers as a precautionary step to avoid recruiting mentally disturbed people who will be tasked with assisting families and overseeing children’s well-being. About one third of the total population of 27 million in the Saudi kingdom are expatriates, mainly labourers and helpers from Asian countries in the booming construction and highly significant service sectors.