Condemned Indonesian woman freed


Darsem (C), an Indonesian maid who was convicted of murder in Saudi Arabia, holds her son during a handover ceremony in Jakarta on July 13, 2011.


Bay Ismoyo

An Indonesian maid, convicted of murdering a relative of her Saudi employer, has escaped the death penalty and returned to Indonesia a free woman after paying so-called “blood money” to the man’s family.

The Indonesian government raised the funds -- about 2 million Saudi riyals (US$533,000) -- partly through donations from the public.

Darsem binti Dawud Tawar claimed that she acted in self-defense after she said the victim – a relative of her employer – tried to rape her.

In May 2009, a Saudi court sentenced Darsem to death for murdering the man in Yemeni.

She was pardoned after a deal was worked out with the victim’s family – but other Indonesian maids have not been so lucky.

Recently there was a diplomat storm between Jakarta and Saudi, following beheading of another Indonesian maid convicted of murdering her employer in Saudi Arabia.

Ruyati binti Sapubi was executed on June 16. Saudi Arabian authorities failed to inform Indonesia about the date of her execution.

There was a diplomatic storm – with the Indonesian government acting swiftly to protect workers’ rights – including announcing a monetorium on sending workers to the Gulf.

Subsequently a public campaign in the Saudi Arabia is urging locals to treat Asian maids and service workers humanely, following widespread claims of abuse.

The campaign includes a graphic advertisement that depicts a maid peering out from a doghouse with a chain around her neck. "Don't Strip Me of My Humanity!" the title reads.

More than a million Indonesian’s work in Saudi Arabia.

Darsem binti Dawud Tawar first left her home and baby in West Java in 2006, to work as a maid in the Middle East,

Yesterday she was a free woman and reunited with her son at the Indonesian Foreign Ministry in Jakarta .