The allegations that two Nepalese women were imprisoned for more than four months at the residence of a Saudi Arabian diplomat in the Indian city of Gurgaon and raped repeatedly by over twenty guests and family members of the First Secretary have been denied. The moment for the Saudi Government to recoil with horror at the actions of rogue members of its diplomatic corps and cooperate promptly with the Indian police has passed. Instead, the Vienna convention has been rolled out to convert the pornographic excesses of their staff into diplomatic business and to criticize the Indian government for raiding embassy premises to liberate the women. Beyond their freedom, there is unlikely to be much justice in the future for these two ladies of a tiny nation caught between two great powers. It is clear that the rest of their lives will be blighted by their sex slavery in a country they had hoped to earn a living as domestics. The accused is of course innocent until proven guilty, although medical examinations have shown up horrendous genital damage, sexually transmitted diseases and a knife wound in the palm. And the ladies have now left for Nepal, without a day’s wages. It is unlikely that regular gang-raping by up to 8 men at a time would have been the fate of say, two female employees of the Saudi embassy from the West. This underscores the sentence of rape and worse that poverty of nation and person can inflict upon the wretched of the Earth. As we speak hundreds of thousands of domestics who leave the broken protection of their countries to wrest a basic living elsewhere, will be suffering travails of all stripes.
What are we to do?
Loud, persistent and courageous public outcry to compel the Saudis to take a principled position and lift their diplomatic protection of alleged rapists will do more than help two hapless ladies; it will loosen the shackles of other victims in their thousands held in similar situations around the world. All credit to Maitri India, the NGO that fought the corner of the ladies, and the Indian police that sprung them. Beyond these two women, those of us in comfort must open our eyes to the vulnerable in our midst, must raise our voices in support of those that the powerful have by the neck. Sex, even at the kinkiest end of the spectrum is available for sale. When those with the means to buy it opt to oppress the vulnerable within their power it points to an irremediable level of inhumanity. So even if the Indian government are unable, by the outworking of politics and diplomacy to wrest even the most nominal justice for the traumatized ladies, we should not bury them in silence, but call out the conduct of the pornographic diplomat and his family and guests, and the country that shields them from justice.