Latest modern slavery fight updates -

Saudi employer found guilty of murdering domestic worker

  • Published on
    February 19, 2021
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Domestic Slavery
Hero Banner

A rare ruling this week found a Saudi woman guilty of abusing and murdering Abiron Begum, a migrant domestic worker. A Saudi Arabian court sentenced Ayesha Al Jizani to death for murdering Begum in March 2019, who travelled from Bangladesh to work as a maid in Jizani’s household.

Jizani’s husband and son also faced repercussions for their role in perpetuating the extreme abuse suffered by Abiron Begum, sentenced to three years in jail and seven months in a juvenile facility respectively.

700,000 Bangladeshis used to seek work abroad every year before COVID-19, with many opting to find employment in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has some of the highest recruitment fees for Bangladeshi workers. Often, these fees are paid through unofficial brokers, paving the way for exploitation and trafficking for migrant workers like Begum.

Begum’s relatives have called on the Bangladeshi government to hold the brokers who ‘tricked’ Begum into her job in Saudi Arabia accountable for her death.

They told the Thomson Reuters Foundation:

“(She) wanted to go abroad to earn more money so that she could pay for her aged parents…They started torturing her two weeks after she left. She would call us and cry…we begged the brokers here to bring her back, but no one listened to us.”

While it is not clear whether the brokers who facilitated Begum’s exploitation will be brought to justice, campaigner Shakirul Islam, head of the Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program, which deals with migrant rights in Bangladesh expressed surprise at the Saudi court’s verdict against an employer:

“I have been working in the migration field for several years and I have never heard of such a verdict.”

At the time of Abiron Begum’s death, migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia would have been subject to the kafala system, which ties domestic workers to a single employer preventing them from escaping exploitation and abuse. This tied visa system, also present in the U.K. and around the world, is seen as a driver of domestic slavery.

In November 2020, it was reported that Saudia Arabia was reforming the kafala system, giving migrant domestic workers more autonomy but reforms are yet to be implemented.

The decision by the Saudi court to convict Abiron Begum’s employer for abuse and murder could be seen as cause for cautious optimism that the exploitation of migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia is being taken seriously.

Freedom United is calling on governments to take action to protect migrant domestic workers from exploitation and abuse. Sign the petition urging world leaders to ratify the Domestic Workers Convention.


Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
john mascarenhas
john mascarenhas
3 years ago

so sad. what is the female prime minister of bangladesh doing to help poor females? is she sleeping with the saudi rulers?

3 years ago

Thanks justice was served in this case hoping for our other cases to get justice also

Gayle McKenzie
Gayle McKenzie
3 years ago

RIP, Ms. Begum. Sorry to hear about your tragic story. I really hope that your family back home is healing and getting financial help after your tragic death. God bless you and your family.

This week

Rounded up and abandoned: Europe’s covert support of migrant atrocities

It is well documented that inhumane immigration policies are forcing migrants to take extremely risky routes on their journey to seek asylum in Europe and globally. However, a year-long investigation by the Washington Post, Lighthouse Reports, and a consortium of international media outlets uncovered that migrant lives are not just at risk due to sketchy channel crossings and being packed in the back of refrigerator trucks. To dissuade sub-Saharan

| Wednesday May 22, 2024

Read more