A diplomat from Saudi Arabia and his entourage in India are facing rape, sodomy, and torture allegations from two Nepalese women. Medical tests verify that the women have been the subject of “unnatural” sex. As a diplomat, the Saudi is subject to immunity from prosecution in India, bringing into whether or not the men will face justice.
After the April earthquake in Nepal, which claimed 9,000 lives and injured 22,000 others, the women were lured to India with the promise of work. A total of 30 Nepalese women were first brought to Gurgaon, a suburb of Delhi, flown to the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, and then flown back to India.
In statements reported by India Today, the women, who have not been identified, described their ordeal.
“They said we bought you… Then they started doing everything they wanted.”
“There were 6 to 7 people in the family. When the family used to go out our owner comes and rape us.”
“Allegations are false, have not been proven,” the Saudi Arabian embassy in India said of the charges.
The 1961 Vienna Convention protects the diplomat’s immunity. The Saudi government is seen as having two choices: either strip the unnamed diplomat of his credentials, which is seen as unlikely, or bring him back to Saudi Arabia, where he would presumably face justice from Saudi courts.
Vikas Swarup, a representative of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted with regard to the incident.
“We have documented numerous cases in Saudi Arabia,” southeast Asia Human Rights Watch Director Meenakshi Ganguly stated to the Times of India, “where women domestic workers had to endure a range of abuses without the authorities ever holding the employers to account.”
“Outrage Grows,” the Indian newspaper’s headline read. “The diplomat has to go, one way or another. If the Saudis don’t defuse the situation by taking their diplomat home, the Indian government would find itself compelled to declare him persona non grata and expel him.”
India’s Daughter, a film released earlier this year by British director Leslee Udwin, shined a spotlight on the 2012 gang rape of a 23-year-old student and was banned in India.
Vice has reported on photographer Ziyah Gafic’s investigation of the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. The photographer discusses his “detached” method, attempting to remove his personal bias and let the story of his subjects tell itself.
“I think there’s a general feeling, that Muslim women, in general, and Saudi women in particular, is [sic] somehow put in the backseat of the society,” the photographer states, “Whenever we’re talking about Muslim women, Saudi Arabia is always picked up as a bad example. But actually, statistically, women in Saudi Arabia or more educated than men. There are more women with college degrees… than men.”
[Screenshot Courtesy AFP News / YouTube]