It all began last Wednesday when a Kenyan woman boarded a bus in Irvine, California. (Yes…they have public buses in Orange County. And…Yes…they stop to pick up black people.) Anyhow, when she got on the coach, it became apparent to the other passengers that something was wrong with her. She seemed frantic, twitchy and scared. When approached, she told people...with a peculiar African accent...that she had escaped through the window of a nearby condo. She had been held there, against her will, by her supervisor, a Princess from Saudi Arabia. The confused and concerned passengers took her to the Irvine Police Station.
Within hours, cops arrived at the condo. They arrested Princess Meshel Alayban, 42. She is one of the wives of Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud. They have three children and have been living in a lavish four-condo unit in Irvine since May. In addition to the Kenyan lady, they had four others, all from the Philippines. Yep...we know what you're thinking: These Saudi Royals are really slumming it. That's barely one servant per prince!
Let’s begin by examining the captive's story. Last year, she went to an employment agency in Nairobi. For $1,600 a month, she agreed to work a standard, 40 hours per week as a household servant in Saudi Arabia. She needed extra money to pay her child’s medical bills. However, when she arrived for her job, the arrangements changed. Her employers seized her Kenyan passport, ripped up the contract and informed her of the new terms. She would now work 16 hours, seven days a week and would be paid $220 a month. Yikes! No wonder she ran away!
Not so fast! Maybe it's a just a big misunderstanding. The Saudi Arabian consulate thinks so. They quickly paid her $5 million dollar (!) bail. It's also no surprise that our princess also has a top-notch lawyer, Paul Meyer. He claims the whole thing has been blown out of proportion. This matter is simply a dispute over wages. “The truth will resolve this matter quickly,” he told the Orange County Register. We here at the DUNER BLOG are hesitantly siding with the Princess. We do have trouble believing any Saudi Royal needs to save cash by skimping on servant’s pay.
Today, Alayban is out of jail and awaiting her July 29th arraignment. She has the dubious distinction of being the first person tried under California’s new Human Trafficking Law, which voters passed last November as Proposition #35. If convicted, she’ll serve up to 12 years in prison. This is not likely, as none of the five women have any evidence of physical abuse. Stay Tuned! NOTE: For our hundred or so readers in the Saudi Kingdom, we have some simple advice. When you travel, leave your servants at home. In short, the laws on the Arabian Peninsula are completely different than any other place on earth!