A criminal court in Saudi Arabia has handed death sentence to a Saudi woman for killing her Bangladeshi maid in a ruling rights groups say was a rare example of an employer being found guilty of abusing a migrant worker in the Middle East country.
Ayesha al-Jizani was sentenced on Sunday to death by the court for killing Abiron Begum in March 2019, some two years after Begum went to the Gulf state in search of better paid work.
Begum’s relatives urged the Bangladeshi government to take action against the brokers who “tricked” Begum, 40, into taking the job in Saudi Arabia four years ago.
“(She) wanted to go abroad to earn more money so that she could pay for her aged parents,” Ayub Ali, Begum’s brother-in-law, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“They started torturing her two weeks after she left. She would call us and cry … we begged the brokers here to bring her back, but no one listened to us.
Jizani’s husband was jailed for three years for failing to help Begum access medical treatment and making her work outside the family home illegally.
Jizani’s son was sent to a juvenile facility for seven months, Saleheen added.
Campaigners said the Saudi court’s verdict against an employer was unusual.
“I have been working in the migration field for several years and I have never heard of such a verdict,” said Shakirul Islam, the head of the Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program, which deals with migrant rights in Bangladesh.
More than 300,000 Bangladeshi female workers have travelled to Saudi Arabia since 1991 but many of them return with stories of abuse and exploitation.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) employers confiscate passports, withhold wages and force migrants to work against their will. Workers who leave their employer without their consent can be charged with “absconding” and face imprisonment and deportation, HRW said.
In the last five years, nearly 70 Bangladeshi female workers died in Saudi Arabia, more than 50 of them committing suicide.