Thursday, 17 January 2013

Execution of a Maid

There is no nice way to say beheading - execution, executed, beheaded.

Sri Lankan maid, Rizana Nafeek, 24 years old, was beheaded a few days ago.  Her crime - killing a child left in her care.  At the time she was 17.  She had been in Saudi Arabia for one week.

Apparently her documents had been falsified by the agents who sent her here, stating she was older than she actually was.  She went to work as a maid and nanny in a Saudi home, having never worked in either role before.

Since her imprisonment there have been calls for clemency, proof of Rizana's true age has been presented and Saudi was reminded of the International Conventions it is a part of, particularly the Rights of the Child which states that no child will be subjected to torture and no participating country can impose capital punishment or life imprisonment without the possibility of release for anyone under 18 years of age.

But all of that was for naught because in 2005 a mother lost her baby and, as is her right according to Saudi law and based on a date printed for all to see in a legal Sri Lankan passport document, she refused to pardon Rizana and accept blood money.  So a young woman was sentenced to death and now another mother, in another country, is feeling the anguish of a lost child.

If I was walking in the Saudi mother's shoes, would I have made the same choice?
I'm glad I've never had to know.
I hope I never have to find out.

A Memorial to Rizana is a thoughtful piece that looks at all parties involved in the execution of a maid in Saudi, from the culture and laws of Saudi Arabia through the politics of poverty and corruption in Sri Lanka and beyond.

Ka Kite,

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