Saudi princess faces slavery charges in US

Meshael Alayban accused of bringing Kenyan maid to US and holding her against her will

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

A woman described by US authorities as a Saudi Arabian princess has been charged with human trafficking after allegedly forcing another female to unwillingly work as her servant.

Forty two-year old Meshael Alayban was arrested by police in Orange County, California, and taken into custody on Wednesday. Prosecutors accuse Alayban of forcing the Kenyan national to work for 16 hours per day, seven days per week, for just $220 per month. The victim is said to have been unable to flee as Alayban had confiscated her passport, the UK's Guardian reported.

Prosecutors have identified Alayban as one of the wives of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

The case came to light after the woman left Alayban’s home on Tuesday to board a bus, before she contacted police.

"The law of our nation and California does not tolerate people who deprive or violate the liberty of another and obtain forced labour or services,” said District Attorney Tony Rackuackas, as he charged Alayban with one felony count of human trafficking. "If any person is being enslaved, he or she should contact law enforcement," he told the paper.

Police offers said that four other women, from the Philippines, had been discovered being held under similar circumstances at Alayban’s premises, although no charges have yet to be filed in relation to these yet.

The unnamed Kenyan woman is said to have begun working for Alayban and her family in March 2012, when they still lived in Saudi Arabia. She had initially been contacted through an agency in Kenya and was promised a salary of $1,600 per month on a contract of two years, with standard working hours.

She accompanied Alayban to the US in May and claimed that she had only been paid a fraction of the agreed salary. When she complained about working conditions and requested her passport be returned, Alayban allegedly refused to give it back.

Prosecutors asked that Alayban be denied bail as she was deemed as a flight risk, but a judge ordered she be held in lieu of $5m bail. She has also been ordered to surrender her passport not travel outside of the Orange County area.

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Posted by: Barry Vine

to all; irrelevant of stature; creed; origins or ethnicity. the young Kenyan lady was employed with an agreed salary and working hours. she also had her passport "confiscated" by a commoner (non govt official capacity) ; which is against any law. contracts were breached on all fronts and hence the case has transpired.

the ethnicity of the accused is irrelevant; and she shall receive no special treatment. if anything the punishment (should she be found guilty) should be in line with the fact that we have legal systems to support the laws. if you dont like the law....move on.

Thanks to the US Govt for not turning a blind eye.

Posted by: Mohammad El Khatib

The most disappointing thing here is how many people want to defend this practice. As an Arab who grew up in Europe and recently moved back, I have seen first hand how people treat their domestic help. This, however, is not limited to locals: I have even heard an Englishman referring to how his nanny "escaped". Once the law allows a two tier system, many, many people are corrupted. I applaud the US for not turning a blind eye.

Posted by: Paul

It is sad how this issue is so overlooked at and even considered normal in the GCC countries.
Regardless the salary one may have in their native countries ? that is their native country standards ? when he or she engages in a job in another country they should be paid a decent salary to allow them have at least a dignified life and should be offered working conditions in accordance with the international and national law as applicable to nationals of the receiving country.
Why rich countries in the GCC do not consider labors and maids, to be normal citizens, with the same needs as their employers. Not even to mention the fact that they are doing an extra sacrifice being far from their families?
Why all these religious countries lack have morals and ethics of so low standards? And why the Media doesn?t do more to expose this systematic abuse?

Posted by: saeed

hello john boy

didn't the US had lawful slavery couples of decades ago?

we all know what they did to the native Americans
i lived in alabama and came to know first hand how the blacks are treated in general

what about illegal occupations of oil and mineral rich countries by US/Nato etc

isnt OB dead already?

did we forget Europe's years of colonization, and killings of millions - the affects of which are still being felt

yes - if the woman is accused of a crime let her get proper punishment.

but putting a 5m bail tells another story

Posted by: Mark Williams

''did we forget Europe's years of colonization, and killings of millions - the affects of which are still being felt''

Oh please change the record stop playing the victim with your hand in the till!

Move on, none of us lived in that time, those that did were the usual ruling classes out for themselves, dont tar us all with their brush please.

Posted by: tony

Saeed, are you saying there were no slaves in the Islamic empires? Or what do you think they did when they occupied other countries? How exactly do you think Islam spread in Iran? With hugs and kisses?

Posted by: Ponder

The US didnt have lawful slavery or any slavery a couple of decades ago or even a century ago.

And after that poorly thought statement I wont bother to respond the othey subjective & selective facts you bring forth which have nothing to do with the facts of this case & 2 wrongs dont make a right.

Posted by: John Thomas

@ Ali; seriously; are you living in the 1500's?? whether she is a princess (sort of) or the Pope she has to follow the law (and human decency!!); if she wants to enslave someone than she should go back to the 14th century!. It simply appalls me that you would make a comment as such and please stop using the "Muslim" card; it does not work; and royal??? ("one of the wives"???) - laws apply to ALL regardless of Religion or belief; anyone who treats another human being as she did should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. How would you like to be told that you will be making $1200 and than you get paid $200?? for "24 hrs" of work every day?? How would you take it?? Nationality has nothing to do with it; I would rescind your comment if i were you and apologize! Shame on you!!!

Posted by: PPM

@Mohammed. To start with you appear to adhere to a common and erroneous assumption made a lot in this region that they would have nothing in their home countries.
Most people who come here on visit visas and are then hired have spent around Dhs7000 prior to being hired. Even maids have had to raise around Dhs 1000 in order to get here. These people are NOT the most destitute in their society but people with access to the funds needed to get here. Please don't assume that their life would always be worse at home.
Equally; if you hire a lawyer on $200 per hour and you chose not to pay him, would you not expect to be in court pretty quickly and on the wrong end of a big fine soon after? Well, why should you not expect the same if you agreed a payment with a maid, she contributed her side of the bargain and then you cheated her?
To fail to pay employees properly is always common theft and common thieves are to be despised and should always be punished appropriately.

Posted by: Mohammed

You guys seem to be conveniently forgetting one thing. Why would someone offer $1200 to someone who will jump at the opportunity to work for $200, being from a country where they earn nothing. But maybe I'm wrong and you guys were witness when the contracts were signed.

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