Ethiopian Woman Who Attempted Suicide in Dubai is Thrown in Jail

Filed under: Africa |
Ethiopian Dubai photo

African workers face constant abuse in Arabia

A despondent maid in Dubai who was fired from her job after complaining about the lack of pay tried to commit suicide — only to be arrested and fined by police, according to reports.

The desperate act by the 24-year-old woman, described as an Ethiopian national with the initials “AM,” occurred after she was booted from her sponsor’s home.

“I meant to end my life by standing in the street,” she told Dubai’s Misdemeanor Court.

The Ethiopian woman complained that the Arab family refused to pay her for three months of work. They threw her out after she asked for payment to be sent to her family in Ethiopia.

“I found myself thrown away and I thought of my poor family back home,” she told the court. “I felt desperate and decided I should die.”

A police officer found her in the middle of the road, trying to get hit by a car.

“I started talking to her to understand why she was standing there. When she told me, I informed her it was wrong to do so,” the officer said, “I finally managed to have her step aside.”

Attempted suicide is illegal under Sharia law, and the federal penal code in the United Arab Emirates punishes those who try with up to six months in jail and a fine.

In this latest case, the Ethiopian maid was found guilty and fined the equivalent of $260.

A Dubai newspaper published an editorial Monday calling for compassion and an attitude of concern for suicidal people — as opposed to reprimanding them.

“By standing in traffic, AM put others in danger as well as herself. Yet it must be asked: what is to be gained from punishing a desperate and disorientated woman by applying a fine that she has no means to pay?” the newspaper asked.

Abuse of migrant workers is an ongoing problem in the United Arab Emirates, and a January 2012 study by Human Rights Watch found at least 26 suicides alone of migrants last year.

In another recent example last week, a maid in the emirate of Fujairah confessed to trying to poison herself with soap powder after getting into a dispute with her sponsor’s wife.

The maid was charged with attempted suicide and ordered to serve a month in jail.