By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh: A Criminal Court in Saudi Arabia on February 14 handed capital punishment to a housewife of the Country in the conviction of murdering a Bangladeshi female migrant worker two years ago, in a clear sign of the plights of the domestic workers in the middle-eastern Country.
“A Riyadh Criminal Court delivered the verdict on the basis of (Islamic Sariah Law) Kisas, or life instead of life,” said the statement issued by the Saudi Embassy in Dhaka on Monday.
The death row convict has been identified as Ayesha-al Jizani, who brutally murdered her Bangladeshi domestic servant Mrs. Abiron Begum in March 2019, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Court served Jizani’s husband Basem Salem 3.2 years in prison for destroying evidence, failing to provide Begum with medical treatment, and forcing a domestic worker to work outside the home.
Basem Salem has also been fined of 50,000 Saudi Riyals (13,330 US dollars) by the Court.
The couple’s teenage son Walid Basem Salem has received a seven-month term in Juvenile Rehabilitation Center for not cooperating with Begum in several instances and assisting his mother in committing the offense.
Bangladesh Embassy’s First Secretary (Labor) Md Shafiqul Islam and legal aid Sohel Ahmed were present at the court during the verdict, it added.
Begum, who went to Saudi Arabia in 2017, was tortured and killed allegedly at her employer’s house. Her body was kept in a mortuary there for seven months before being sent to Bangladesh.
Begum’s family claimed that her body was “unrecognizable” when it was repatriated back to Bangladesh seven months later.
Assurance of justice
Earlier, the Saudi Court expressed sorrow for the deceased and assured that it would serve justice against the brutal murder as per the Islamic Sariah Law.
It, however, asked the convict that she would be allowed to lodge an appeal against the verdict within the next 30 days.
A huge number of female migrant workers in Saudi Arabia including those who migrated from Bangladesh are being tortured and assaulted physically.
According to official records of BRAC, an international development organization based in Bangladesh, in the last five years, more than 10,000 Bangladeshi women workers have returned from Saudi Arabia, most of them with stories of physical torture and sexual assault.
The BRAC Migration Program also records nearly 500 bodies of women were brought back in Bangladesh in the last five years. Among those, at least 200 returned from Saudi Arabia. Those responsible for the killings faced are yet to face any punishment for their crimes.
Around 353,000 Bangladeshi women are currently employed in Saudi Arabia since 1991, which is 38% of total women migrants working in different countries, according to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment, and Training.
According to the Bangladeshi Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, currently above 2 million Bangladeshi migrant workers are employed in Saudi Arabia. Of them, there are more than 200,000 are female workers, mostly working as housemaids.
Satisfaction over the verdict
The Muslim majority South Asian Delta Country, Bangladesh, earns the majority of its foreign currency by its migrant workers including the female ones.
Data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Manpower, Employment, and Training (BMET) suggests that out of the USD 16 billion of remittances sent home by migrant workers in the fiscal year 2019-2020, the highest portion came from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (USD 3.5 billion).
Reacting to the verdict, Bangladesh Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohammad Javed Patwary conveyed his sincere thanks and gratitude to the Saudi government for ensuring justice for Begum.
Meanwhile, Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed in the press release said, “The government will provide all possible assistance, especially from our ministry, to ensure justice for expatriate workers.”