Stop sending Kenyans to slavery and death

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital city. [Istockphoto]

There is just no shortage of horror stories from the Arab countries. It appears brutality runs in the blood of some citizens of these countries if stories of torture and murder of Kenyan domestic workers there are anything to go by.

In the latest episode of the unending horror movie, a video has emerged of Kenyan woman breastfeeding puppies in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, a family is is demanding justice after their kin was killed and hurled down a 13-floor building in Cairo, Egypt.

Barely a month passes without news of murder or torture of Kenyans in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. In fact, between 2020 and 2021, the government revealed that 89 domestic workers had died (read killed) in Saudi Arabia alone.

Unfortunately, such gruesome news do not deter our desperate sisters, some just out of their teenage, who continue to head to the Middle East in droves. You cannot blame them jobless and hopeless and are not well educated to gauge the danger ahead of them.

Sadly, such grim news doesn't also seem to tug at the heartstrings of government officials as no serious action has taken to stop the mistreatment.

Perhaps our government is too blinded by money - Sh22 billion was remitted by Kenyans in Saudi Arabia in the last eight months - and sees the suffering of our people as mere collateral damage.

That must come to a stop. Governments that are worth their salt cannot stand by while their citizens are treated worse than animals. Some of them would go to the extent of cutting ties with these countries.

But our government continues to discuss this matter in hushed tones with Saudi Arabia. It has never bothered to publicly call for investigation and prosecution of those who torture Kenyans and compensation for the victims' families. All we have had it talk about is establishment of safe houses for the victims.

That is not enough. The government must demand punishment of employers in Saudi Arabia and other countries who mistreat, maim or kill Kenyans. We have never hear of anyone who have been punished for mistreating or killing Kenyans in these countries. But we have heard of foreigners being executed in Saudi Arabia for committing crimes. For instance, a Sri Lankan domestic worker was beheaded in 2013 for killing a baby under her care.

There should be no double standards. We demand similar action against those who have killed Kenyans in Saudi Arabia over the years - unless the Saudi government tolerates the murders. The age of slave trade is long gone and Saudi Arabia must demand that its citizens treat all with dignity.

But if Saudi Arabia does not take action, it is the responsibility of Kenya to demand punishment of these killer monsters if it, indeed, values the lives of its people. Maintaining silence can only mean its unbothered by the murders as long as billions of shillings continue to come.

If government lacks the courage to demand justice for its helpless, it should immediately stop exporting domestic labourers to these countries. It is better die in poverty at home than to die or breastfeed puppies abroad. Save us from such indignity.