Can you imagine the terror of being beheaded? Probably not. I’ll describe it for you.
Here is the scene: You are in prison in Saudi Arabia. You are told by your guards that you will be punished within 24 hours. You are told you will be heheaded by a big man swinging a sword.
There is no one to help you. You are totally alone and thousands of miles away from your loved ones. You traveled to Saudi Arabia for a decent job and salary in order to help your family. You had heard of many horror stories of other domestic workers being beaten, or even raped. Yet you deperately needed a job and you were optimistic, hoping for a kind employer, someone who would not work you 7 days a week. You are a woman and women rarely kill. So, perhaps you are innocent of any crime. Then again, perhaps you are guilty of a crime, but in too many cases brought about by terrible cruelties inflicted upon you by a brutal and cruel employer.
The night before your death seems so brief because you so want to live your life. You can’t bear the thought of losing your life as you had many hopes and dreams. But at times the night can also seem slow because you are so frightened and all you can think about is THAT SWORD. Sometimes in Saudi Arabia those who execute intentionally use a very blunt sword, in order the make the beheading even more gruesome. Each footstep you hear makes your beating heart beat faster still. You sweat, you pace, you weep. But you have a date with a sword and you know that soon your head will be cut off your body.
During the night you pat your head with your hand. You wrap your small hands around your neck. If you are to die, you want your head and neck to die together, not separated so cruelly. Soon you hear the call for prayer. The morning is coming for you.
Then you hear determined footsteps of more than one person. You KNOW they are coming for you. You freeze in sheer terror. Men enter your cell and one asks, “Are you ready?” You cannot move. They move you. You are surrounded and pushed out of your cell and taken to an automobile. You don’t bother pleading for your life because these men have hearts of stone. You keep thinking that perhaps someone from your country might hear of your execution and intervene at the last minute.
But you are soon at the public square. There is a large crowd gathered, waiting to jeer you. These people do not know your story. They do not know that your employer has beaten you daily. They do not know that you quietly took the beatings and the disappointment until the day you were told you could not return home to see your family. You were working seven days a week, 12 hours a day, for free because your employer had never paid you. Your employer shoved you to the side and made fun of you, telling you that you are nothing, that no one cares anymore for you than a single sheep in a pasture. Your employer told you that you might NEVER return home.
For the past year you had been dreaming of going home, to return to see those you love and those who love you. Your life has been JOYLESS since you entered the home of your employer. Suddenly you snapped when you saw a big knife on the kitchen counter. You didn’t think of harming anyone, but your hands seemed to belong to another when they grabbed that knife and plunged it into the stomach of your tormentor. You were in a fog, a haze of grief and anger. It was wrong, but you were possessed by a terror and anger that could not be suppressed.
The dreaded moment has come. You are in the square. You see a huge man standing a few feet away. He is holding a sword. You can’t take your eyes off that huge blade. It does look sharp. You are trembling so that you can barely keep upright. You are standing with your hands tied behind you. You hear the crowd’s excitement at what they deem as entertainment but you can’t make out the individual taunts.
You are told to kneel, but you cannot. You are pushed in a kneeling position. You wait for what seems like many long minutes. Then you feel that sword, a prick on the back of your neck. You draw back, exposing the softness of your neck. Suddenly you see a sword swinging at you. The moment is fast. Your head rolls a few feet. Blood streams high into the air. The crowd is excited but you are not longer a part of their cruel world. Your head and your body are collected and tossed in a sack.
SIDENOTE before you get to the article: Some weeks ago I wrote about an Indonesia maid in Saudi Arabia who was brutally beaten, stabbed and burned by her female employer. In a Mecca courtroom, the female employer accused the maid of beating, stabbing and burning herself! A beautiful young woman had been reduced to a bald and burned pitiful human being. Believe it or not, the Mecca court found the employer NOT GUILTY.
Now, we have a second story. An Indonesia maid has been beheaded because she snapped after her employer refused to let her leave the kingdom to go and visit her family. Another maid from Sri Lanka was kept as a prisoner for 14 years without pay or allowed to contact her family.
I knew of, heard about, or witnessed such cruelties during the 12 years I lived in Saudi Arabia. There were horror stories from all over the kingdom. I said then, and I will say this again: UNTIL THE SAUDI ARABIAN GOVERNMENT MAKES LAWS TO PROTECT THESE INNOCENT VICTIMS, THEY WILL NEVER BE SEEN IN A GOOD LIGHT BY ANYONE. DESPITE THE MANY GOOD THINGS ABOUT THE KINGDOM, AND THE MANY FINE SAUDI PEOPLE I MET AND STILL KNOW, EVERY SAUDI SHOULD RISE UP IN A FURY THAT THESE KIND OF CRUELTIES AND MISTREATMENTS OCCUR IN THEIR LAND. I hope that Saudis will insist upon this change for their country.
NOW: HERE IS THE ARTICLE IN THE TELEGRAPH:
Maid’s beheading in Saudi Arabia halts Indonesian domestic worker scheme
Indonesia will suspend sending domestic helpers to Saudi Arabia after the beheading of a maid convicted of murdering her Saudi employer.
7:00AM BST 23 Jun 2011
Migrant worker Ruyati binti Sapubi, 54, was executed after she was convicted of murdering her Saudi employer, Khairiya bint Hamid Mijlid, with a meat cleaver.
The maid carried out the killing after she was denied permission to leave the kingdom and return to her family in Indonesia, according to officials in Jakarta.
“The Indonesian government has decided to impose a moratorium on sending workers to Saudi Arabia,” labour minister Muhaimin Iskandar was quoted by state news agency Antara as saying.
The report did not provide further details but local media indicated the move was aimed at domestic workers, who make up about 70 per cent of the 1.2 million Indonesian workers in the Gulf state.
The suspension will take effect on August 1 and will remain until the Saudi government agrees to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to protect Indonesian workers’ rights, Iskandar said.
Saudi Arabia apologised for failing to inform Indonesia of the beheading, while Jakarta formally protested to Riyadh over the execution.
“The ambassador apologised and regretted the situation and said that such a thing wouldn’t happen again in future,” foreign ministry spokesman Michael Tene said.
Indonesia recalled its ambassador to Riyadh earlier this week for consultations.
In a second case, a court in the Saudi capital Riyadh had sentenced Indonesian maid Darsem to death for murdering her Yemeni employer in December 2007 in what she called an act of self-defence as the employer had tried to rape her.
Indonesian officials had said she could escape the sentence if she received pardon from the family, who forgave her in January on the condition that she pays the compensation or “diyat” of two million riyals ($533,000).
The Indonesian government will pay the compensation ahead of July’s deadline, Mr Tene said.
“The full amount has been transferred to the Indonesian embassy in Riyadh and a team from the Foreign Ministry will be flying there tonight to oversee the payment process. We hope her life will be spared,” he said.
The women’s cases are the latest in a string of incidents involving Indonesian menial labourers in the Middle East. This week authorities in Saudi Arabia discovered a Sri Lankan maid who had been kept against her will without pay for nearly 14 years by her local employers.
Human rights groups say workers from countries such as Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka underpin the Gulf states’ economies but face extreme forms of exploitation.