Protectors turn predators | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 03, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:23 AM, September 03, 2018

Protectors turn predators

2 Bangladesh embassy staffers in Riyadh suspended for exploiting woman in shelter

The Bangladesh Embassy in Saudi Arabia yesterday suspended two of its employees following allegations that they sexually exploited a woman when she was staying at an embassy-run shelter in Riyadh.

The matter came to light after the woman attempted to kill herself by swallowing insecticide inside a toilet on the third floor of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport last week.

After she was rescued by airport staffers and taken to police, she said an employee of the embassy promised to marry her and had physical relationship with her. But the man severed all contact with her once she came back to Bangladesh on his advice on July 28.

On August 28, she went to the airport from her relative's house in the capital's Jirani area, where she had been staying. She told officials that she went there to retrieve her luggage and tried to die by suicide, police said.

Airport police filed a case the next day, accusing four embassy employees of the provoking her to die by suicide.

According to the case statement, the woman went to Saudi Arabia as a domestic worker in March 2016.

In the first two months, her Saudi employer did not provide her with adequate food or salary and often tortured her physically.

After that, the employer took her to another house where she worked for four months without salary.

With the help of another Bangladeshi, she then went to the office of the Saudi agency that recruited her, according to the case filed by Kabir Hossain, sub-inspector of Airport Police Station.

After staying nine months at the agency office, where she was asked to look after other Bangladeshi women migrants, she took shelter at a safe home of the Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh in September last year.

During her eight-month stay there, the embassy staffer Mohammad Lokman, 35, developed and maintained a physical relationship with her.

Bangladesh embassy staffers Mohammad Golam, Mohammad Fahad and Mohammad Mehedi Hasan used to help Lokman. They made provocations in the woman's suicide attempt, the case statement said.

At one point, she realised that Lokman would not marry her and informed embassy authorities about the matter. Lokman then told her to return to Bangladesh and said he would marry her once she returned to Bangladesh.

He also arranged her return home on July 28. She attempted to kill herself after learning recently that Lokman had returned home.

Police also filed a case against her for the attempted suicide. She has been sent to Kashimpur Jail.

PROBE BODY FORMED

“A high-level committee has been formed for a neutral investigation into the allegations of abuses,” said a statement issued by Bangladesh embassy in Riyadh yesterday.

If the allegations are true, those responsible will be sued and terminated from the jobs, Golam Moshi, ambassador to Riyadh, said.

The incident took place at a time when there had been hundreds of women complaining of physical and mental abuses and non-payment by the employers in Saudi Arabia, home to some two lakh female domestic workers.

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