17 Nov 2010

Torture of Indonesian woman condemned

6:53 am on 17 November 2010

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia has demanded justice for what he is calling the extraordinary torture of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia.

Sumiati Binti Salan Mustapa, 23, is in a stable condition in hospital.

Doctors say she was admitted to hospital in Medina unconscious, her face and body covered in gashes and burns - reportedly inflicted by the women in her employers' family.

Officials say she was also burned with an iron.

Mr Yudhoyono said he would send a team to Saudi Arabia to investigate. On Monday the Indonesian government summoned the Saudi ambassador.

The BBC reports the young woman went to Saudi Arabia four months ago to look for work.

A doctor at a hospital in Medina where she is being treated told the Saudi Gazette that Sumiati was unconscious when admitted and "was wounded from head to toe".

Rights organisations say many foreign domestic maids in Saudi Arabia work in harsh circumstances and often suffer abuse from their employers.

The Saudi Labour Ministry has in the past acknowledged some problems, but the government also says foreign workers' rights are protected under Islamic law.