New domestic helper attack rocks Saudi city

December 14, 2012

Saudi Arabian authorities are questioning an African domestic helper on suspicion of stabbing a mother and her daughter.

The alleged attacks by the 30-year-old against her employers have sent new ripples of shock among the residents of Yanbu in Western Saudi Arabia, the city where a four-year-old girl was murdered by the family housemaid two months ago.

The police said that investigators were looking into the reasons that pushed the woman to attack the family’s daughter, 17, as she was sleeping.

“She stabbed her on the lower part of her face and she then attacked the mother with the knife, but managed only to hurt her fingers,” a police spokesman said, quoted by local Arabic daily Al Madina.

Both the mother and daughter have been transferred to a hospital in Yanbu where they are said to be in a stable condition.

The housemaid, who has reportedly been with the family for ten months, was arrested and taken in for questioning, the report said.

Yanbu in late September was rocked by news that an Indonesian domestic housemaid killed Tala, one of the four daughters of her employer, when the two were alone at home.

The tragedy triggered a wave of condemnation, mainly among working mothers.

Several women teachers pressed the education ministry and their schools to set up nurseries and kindergartens to help them feel more assured about their children’s safety.

This week, the police denied claims made on the internet that the housemaid had accomplices who pushed her to commit the crime.

The trial is expected to start soon after the documents, including the woman’s confessions, are reviewed by the competent committee.

The reasons for the gruesome murder have not been explained, but Khalid Al Shahri, Tala’s father, has denied any ill-treatment.

“She worked for us for three years,” he said. “She had a good character and morals and she was very nice to our daughters. We exempted her from working in the kitchen and asked her to help with cleaning the house and looking after the girls during our absence. We regularly helped her,” the father said.

The family was never late in giving her salary and often offered her gifts such as clothes to encourage her, he said.

“My wife and daughters have never ill-treated her and she had no plans to leave us one week before the murder was committed as was claimed. She did not have the intention to travel home and we would not have objected to it, anyway,” Al Shahri said.


About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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