Thursday: the perils of nannies working abroad

By Nanny X,

Just under a year ago, I was contacted by a reputable nanny agency to help find an american nanny to work in the Middle East. The job promised placement with a western style progressive Arab couple. The position was for one year with a tax free salary and a 6 day week. 
I put the word out via various networks mostly personal contacts and smaller boutique agencies. The job was presented as being perfect for a young college graduate. Thankfully no one applied for the job.
I am loathe to admit that stereotypes regarding regressive cultures are based in truth – but the recent, tragic report of Rizana Nafek, a 23-year-old Sri Lankan nanny based in Saudi Arabia, being beheaded without fair judicial process – seems to point this way. 
Nafeek was held without proper representation for approximately five years. Her alleged crime was the murder of the infant in her care. The facts are that a child died but we do not know for sure that Nafeek killed that child. Even if the evidence was overwhelming in favor of her guilt, Nafeek should have had access to a legitimate legal system. And after a legitimate judicial hearing, her death penalty ruling should have been subjected to multiple legal appeals. 
The Cautionary Tale here for all nannies, especially young and eager American nannies, is this: do not take your freedom and way of life for granted. When you travel to another country know that you are subject to the law of that land. Your citizenship is no guarantee of legal protection. You may be subjected to false accusations. 
I do not believe in the State’s – any State’s – right to take human life, especially in such a barbaric manner. If you are currently contemplating a job in the Middle East research that country’s law. Upon entering a Middle Eastern country make your first trip to an American Embassy and register. Listen to what your diplomat tells you. Follow the rules of that country conscientiously and never surrender your passport to an employer. 
My advice for any nanny with a wanderlust is to seek work abroad in countries that do not support the death penalty and only such countries that have good diplomatic relations with the U.S.
Further reading:

“Saudi prosecutors alleged she had smothered a four-year-old boy after an argument with his mother. Nafeek maintained the baby choked to death. Nafeek was sentenced to death in 2007 by a village court that denied her legal assistance and did not allow her to present her birth certificate in evidence. However, a confession she had signed during interrogation was allowed to stand, though Nafeek had retracted it, saying it had been obtained under duress.The execution has refocused the spotlight on to the increase in cases of abuse of migrant workers, which is a disturbing phenomenon In Saudi Arabia and across the Gulf, where women in often wealthy households are confined to the family home for much of their lives, with complete authority over foreign staff, who are seldom literate and paid little. Maids often have their passports confiscated by their employers, and are treated as indentured labour.

Read the story:
Rizana Nafeek, a young nanny from Sri Lanka, was beheaded by sword this week in Saudi Arabia, punishment for allegedly killing a baby in 2007 when she was believed to be just 17.
The execution has spurred international outcry, given Nafeek’s age at the time of the incident and her limited access to a defense attorney. The beheading has also shined a light on the Arab kingdom’s medieval system of punishment, which includes cutting the hands off thieves, executing women accused of adultery, and flogging men accused of being gay.
Few details of Nafeek’s execution have leaked from the country’s tightly controlled media, but the interior ministry said her head was severed from her body in public in Dawadmy, a dusty suburb of the capital Riyadh.
In modern times, women in saudi Arabia condemned to death were traditionally executed by gunfire, but in recent years they have routinely been beheaded, an historic form of execution ordered under sharia, or the Muslim religious law that governs the country.