Abiron gets Justice
- Employer's wife tortured Abiron, she died on 24 March 2019
- Employer sentenced to jail, fined 50,000 Saudi Riyals
- Abiron's family expressed satisfaction over the verdict
- Her body was brought back home on 24 October 2019
- Nearly 500 bodies of women brought back in last 5 years
- Among those, at least 200 returned from Saudi Arabia
A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced housewife Ayesha Al-Jizani to death for torturing and killing Bangladeshi housemaid Abiron Begum in 2019.
The court also sentenced the Saudi woman's husband Bassem Salem to 3.2 years in prison and fined him 50,000 Saudi riyals for destroying evidence, forcing a domestic worker to work outside and failing to provide medical treatment to the maid.
Bangladesh's Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment made the disclosure on Monday through a press release, adding that the court also sent Ayesha's son Walid Baseed Salem – an accused in the case – to a juvenile correctional facility for seven months.
A criminal court in Riyadh gave the verdict on Sunday, and the Saudi family will get an opportunity to appeal against the verdict within the next 30 days.
The Labour Welfare Wing of the Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh played an effective role in expediting the whole process, so that Abiron's killers can be brought to justice, the release said. The wing's First Secretary Shafiqul Islam and legal counsel Sohel handled the case proceedings.
Meanwhile, experts said such a trial for the murder of a Bangladeshi maid in Saudi Arabia is somewhat of a rare event.
SM Aiyub Ali, husband to Abiron's sister Reshma Khatun, was involved with all related procedures.
Speaking to the Brac Migration Programme, Aiyub said the Saudi employers were torturing Abiron as soon as she started working for them. When the dead body arrived in Bangladesh, it was too horrific to look at.
Aiyub added that Abiron's family is satisfied with the verdict. He thanked the Bangladesh government and everyone who helped with the matter. Aiyub mentioned that there is another case ongoing in Bangladesh related to Abiron's murder, and the family wants it resolved too.
This case was filed against a middleman named Rabiul under the anti-human trafficking laws, and the Criminal Investigation Department of Khulna has been tasked with conducting the investigation.
Death of a dream
Abiron hailed from Khulna's Paikgachha area. She left home for Saudi Arabia in 2017 with help from local middleman Rabiul, with hopes of "helping out her family financially".
Abiron was murdered on 24 March 2019. After seven months of waiting, her family contacted Brac for help. Abiron's body was brought back home on 24 October 2019 with support from the Wage Earners Welfare Board and the Brac Migration Programme.
Her death certificate clearly mentioned the cause of death as murder. After the media covered Abiron's gruesome fate the day her body arrived in Bangladesh, the National Human Rights Commission formed a committee to probe the matter.
According to the commission's report, Abiron – who was more than 40 at the time of her death – was tortured, beaten and scalded by hot water.
The commission then requested the Bangladesh government to take legal action for ensuring exemplary punishment of the perpetrators. The trial of Abiron murder case began on 16 December last year in Saudi Arabia.
Reacting to the verdict, Bangladesh Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohammad Javed Patwary conveyed his sincere thanks and gratitude to the Saudi government for ensuring justice for Abiron.
Meanwhile, Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed in the press release said, "The government will provide all possible assistance, especially from our ministry, to ensure justice for expatriate workers."
According to the Brac Migration Programme, nearly 500 bodies of women were brought back in Bangladesh in the last five years. Among those, at least 200 returned from the Saudi Arabia. Those responsible for the killings faced are yet to face any punishment for their crimes.
The human rights commission had proposed a number of recommendations for ensuring protection of women working abroad following Abiron's murder, but most of those are yet to be implemented.
Around 3.53 lakh Bangladeshi women are currently employed in Saudi Arabia since 1991, which is 38% of total women migrants working in different countries, according to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training.