Two Moroccan women have been advertised on Saudi Arabian Twitter, sold as domestic workers for lump sums of cash. The post has sparked outrage among anti-slavery and women’s rights advocates.
The woman on the right is described as being 30 years old, with five years’ work experience in Saudi Arabia, and knows how to cook and clean; she is offered for 1500 Saudi riyal (€325, $397). The woman on the left is described as “able to cook Saudi dishes and enjoys children.” She is also being offered for 1500 riyal.
The case is clear-cut: “This is an example of slavery,” Yasmine Ajoutat, a Moroccan blogger on women’s issues and human rights told DW. She explained that foreign women working as housemaids in Saudi Arabia are severely restricted in what they may do. For example, many Saudis do not allow their maids to own a cell phone to communicate with their families.
In one ad the seller complains that they are selling a Moroccan woman as a housemaid due to “her ambition to obtain a mobile phone.” In another Twitter post, a passport of a Moroccan woman had been taken away and used to advertise the maid for sale.
Saudi Arabia began allowing Morrocans to be domestic workers in the country since 2011, though all domestic workers are subject to the kafala system, which ties a worker’s visa to their employer. This scheme has long been criticized as it makes it extremely difficult for domestic workers to escape abusive situations where employers seize their passports, withhold payment, and even deny them the ability to leave Saudi Arabia.
DW also notes that some Saudi female employers have been charged with violence against Moroccan domestic workers out of fear that they would seduce their husbands.
Abdul Aziz al-Khamis, a Saudi journalist, said he believed this case of Moroccan women being offered for sale online was “contrary to both Saudi and International law” and would be resolved by the government. The Saudi Ministry of Information technically prohibits ads like this on public forums as they are personally humiliating.
If the story is true, the perpetrators will be taken before the Saudi authorities,” he said.