Thursday, July 03, 2008

Arab royals kept slaves in Belgium hotel

It's not clear from this Telegraph article just what these royal family members from the UAE were doing staying at a hotel for so long in Brussels, but I guess if you want to get your drink on away from prying eyes at home, it's as good a place as any.

In taking up residence at the Brussels Conrad Hotel, the royals rented out an entire floor for a year and ensconced themselves there...along with up to 20 female slaves.
Police officers and officials from Belgium's Labour Audit Authority raided the Conrad Hotel, the city's most prestigious and the preferred choice of many national leaders during European Union summits, on Tuesday evening.

The operation was triggered by the apparent escape of a maid who was among 20 servants working for the widow of a senior royal figure from the United Arab Emirates and her four daughters who have rented the entire fourth floor of the hotel for the last year.

Officials took away 17 people, from countries including the Philippines, Morocco, India, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Syria, amid allegations they had been held captive for eight months.

[ ... ]

"We are convinced that these 17 girls are victims of people trafficking," said an official.

The servants, dubbed "slaves" in the Belgian media, allegedly had to be at the service of the Arab royals 24 hours a day and had their passport taken away on arrival in Belgium. The women were reportedly not allowed to leave the hotel and their monthly salaries were as low as £80 a month.

"We were not allowed to leave the hotel and we had to be at their disposal 24 hours a day," claimed one young woman of Middle Eastern origin.

"We were not allowed to complain or to ask any questions. We just had to be there at their beck and call."
I'm sure this is all just a cultural misunderstanding. Who are we to judge their values?

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