Monitor Mideast

Saudi Woman Enslaved in Pakistan for Quarter-Century

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Following a bizarre string of events, a Saudi woman has appeared on state television telling the tale of a hostage-taking that lasted for over 25 years. A quarter-century ago, the Saudi woman, who calls herself Umm Amal was kidnapped at the age of 13. Her captor, a Pakistani laborer working in the kingdom secretly took her to Pakistan. The unidentified Pakistani man who had previously resided in the kingdom assaulted her and brought her to Karachi where he forced her to work as a maid in his house for years before she could escape.


A Saudi woman who was raped by a Pakistani man before he abducted and took her to his country 20 years ago has told Okaz/Saudi Gazette of her anguish and desire to return home. She now speaks Urdu and wears the traditional Punjabi dress, but she still retains her Saudi identity. Her abductor raped her when she was only 14, despite being almost 30 years her senior. Then he dragged her by force to the airport and off to Pakistan. She told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that her stepmother asked her to go to a grocery store in the village where she used to live with her father and siblings in the Kingdom.


The Pakistani worker with her took advantage of her and raped her. She told her stepmother, a Syrian national, but was told to keep everything under wraps. Then she asked her to leave with the Pakistani worker, adding her father would kill her if he found out. Not knowing what to do, she listened to her stepmother’s advice and took off with the Pakistani man. The man took her to Jeddah and stayed there for some time. He kept in touch with the stepmother.  She told him that her parents and siblings were going crazy searching for her and they even reported her missing to police. However, some workers in the village who knew what was going on told her father the real story. Her family kept searching for her for a few days until the father, who was being stigmatized by his tribesmen, decided to give up the search.


He told them that he found his daughter and then killed her. Her abductor managed to get her a Pakistani passport and bought two tickets to Pakistan and left the Kingdom. At 14, she found herself in Malir town, east of Karachi. She said: “Everyone in that town was carrying a gun. The town was full of terrorists.” The Pakistani introduced her to his mother and relatives. She could not understand what they were saying and she kept crying all the time. A few days later, the Pakistan man told her he would marry her. He had her sign a marriage contract in front of a Pakistani official at the marriage office.


Afterward, she realized that she would not be able to return to the Kingdom. She lived with the man’s first wife and six children in the same house. At the time, he was 43. She gave birth to two daughters and a son. Her son, who is now 14, memorizes the Holy Qur’an and teaches it at the mosque nearby. She lives on the charity from the Awasser Organization, which takes care of Saudis abandoned abroad, and from her husband’s sister. When things got harder, she had to find work. She worked as a housemaid for some families but never told them about her real nationality. One day when she was in the mall she heard two young men talking in a Saudi dialect. She approached them and talked to them in the same dialect and they were surprised.


She told them her story and they promised her they would search for her family when they got back to the Kingdom. A few months later, they called her and gave her the phone number of her family. She called her father and had a difficult time convincing him she was his daughter. He reprimanded her and told her she should have told him the truth instead of running away with the Pakistani man before hanging up. When she called again, her sister picked up the phone and recognized her. She said: “When I told my sister that I wanted to return, she told me she couldn’t do anything for me. “Then she said that I should stay where I am because my return would disgrace my family.” Then, she decided to go the Saudi Consulate in Karachi and tell them her story.


The consulate contacted her father and asked him to prove the identity of his daughter and send them his ID card. He agreed on the condition that his daughter should not return to the Kingdom. She said: “My situation is getting more difficult and miserable. I can’t travel and I can’t work. “My children are suffering because of our poverty. I desperately need an ID.”


Okaz/Saudi Gazette met Falish Al-Ruhaili, Saudi Consul General in Karachi, who confirmed the woman’s case file was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.