Ok be warned: this is shocking and horrible.

The Independent reports on a young woman whose employer poured boiling water on her. I can hardly stand to read any more than that.

A Filipino woman was left with severe burns after her Saudi Arabia employer allegedly poured boiling water on her.

The 23-year-old household service worker, from Pikit, North Cotabato, suffered burns to her back and legs after being doused with the scorching liquid in the incident in Riyadh on 4 May, ABS-CBN News reported.

According to ABS-CBN News, the mother of Fatma’s employer became angry after Fatma was slow to bring her coffee and then poured boiling water on her.


She wasn’t taken to the hospital for several hours. They just left her to writhe in agony from being scalded from her neck to her bum, as you can see from the horrifying photo.

Saudi Arabia is a very “devout” place you know. Very observant, very religious. Yet abuse of domestic servants is appallingly common there –

According to a study by the Committee on Filipinos Overseas, 70 per cent of Filipino domestic workers in Saudi Arabia have reported physical and psychological abuse.

Tales of mistreatment are common – and not just among Filipinos.

It would appear that devoutness doesn’t reliably make people good. It would appear that it might even shield them from noticing how horrendously toe-curlingly terrifyingly bad they are.


  1. says

    This sad incident is yet another instance of the observation that cultures which actively engage in “Othering” do not value human lives of those they designate “Others”. Take India, for example. Constitutionally “secular”, the Indian society is deeply mired in religious beliefs and practices. That fact has hardly stopped the Indian nation from becoming one of the worst culprits for physical and mental abuse of domestic workers, especially housemaids. This incident in Saudi Arabia is no different than this very recent incident from Singapore involving a woman of Indian origin.

    It is in times such as these that I do feel ashamed to be a human being.

  2. Blanche Quizno says

    Ah, and this is a felony assault crime that will result in a mandatory prison sentence for her employer – right? RIGHT??

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    “You took too long to bring me my coffee. Now, no questions, fetch me a big pot of boiling water now!”

  4. miraxpath says


    I understand you are saying about the situation in India. I agree that the terrible exploitation that happens there is due to a culture that callously separates anyone not from the same caste/clan as an inferior being.

    To be fair, maid abusers in Singapore come from all strata of society and ethnic backgrounds and the abuse has been pretty horrific – from starvation to beatings. Things are improving here as the authorities are quick to prosecute abuse cases and the penalties are somewhat stiff. In addition to a custodial sentence, abusers are banned from employing domestic helpers for a number of years. I was involved in a maid abuse case myself when the neighbour’s maid(an indian national) came crying to our door, begging for help. Her employer – a young mother- hadverbally abused and slapped her. I called the police immediately. Despite the maid having no visible injuries(not saying that she was lying, just that she was not visibly injured), the neighbour was prosecuted and sentenced to 3 weeks’ of jail and barred from hiring domestic help. The police sent me a commendation letter which I still have.

  5. zackoz says

    Judging by her name (“Fatma”?) and where she’s from (North Cotabato in Mindanao), she belongs to the Muslim minority in the Philippines.

    They make up only about 10 percent of the population of the Philippines now; they used to dominate Mindanao but were swamped by millions of Christian migrants from the north during the American period, and after independence.

    So I would assume that this very nasty incident is based on class attitudes rather than religion. Ironically, they might have chosen to employ her because of the assumed religious compatibility.

    Incidents of mistreatment of Filipino, Sub-continent or Indonesian domestic servants in the Middle East (and elsewhere, eg Hong Kong, Singapore) are all too common, but the economic benefits for the “sending countries” are too large to ignore.

    It’s the Philippines’ largest foreign exchange earner.

  6. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ ^ zackoz :“So I would assume that this very nasty incident is based on class attitudes rather than religion.”

    Whyever would you assume that? Its not like both can’t be factors in the”othering” and terrible abuse here.

  7. Stacy says

    @ zackoz #5

    Ophelia didn’t say that this incident was “based on” religion. She said

    It would appear that devoutness doesn’t reliably make people good.

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