Senegal family of maid Mbayang Diop in Saudi 'feel helpless'

Protesters wearing T-shirts with a French slogan reading "Let's save Mbayang" gathered outside Dakar Great Mosque on 1 August 2016
Image caption Protesters wore T-shirts with a French slogan reading "Let's save Mbayang"

The brother of a Senegalese maid who may face the death sentence in Saudi Arabia has told the BBC that the family feel helpless and cannot speak to her.

Mbayang Diop was arrested several weeks ago accused of killing the woman she worked for in Saudi Arabia.

Her brother, Mamadou Diop, said that traffickers had deceived her, promising her a well-paid job but instead she was mistreated.

The 22-year-old woman is in jail in the eastern city of Dammam awaiting trial.

Human rights activists fear Ms Diop, who is divorced and has a three-year-old son who lives with her family in Dakar, may be executed.

It is unclear if she has appeared in court or has pleaded to the charge.

On Monday, protesters gathered in front of the central mosque in Senegal's capital, Dakar, to demand that Ms Diop be given clemency.

Mr Diop said that the family in Dakar had not heard from his sister for a while and were so worried that they wrote to Senegal's foreign affairs ministry.

"That's when we got a call from the ministry, informing us of her arrest," he told the BBC.

"It is hard to know that your sister has such a big problem abroad and you can't do much, you can't go there, you can't phone there."

He said that traffickers had told her she would receive a 600,000 CFA ($1,025, £770) monthly salary if she moved to Saudi Arabia.

But he told Senegalese radio station RFM that once she was in Saudi Arabia, she phoned him to complain about her working conditions, saying she wanted to go home.

Dozens of protesters on Monday, including people from the domestic workers' union, called on the government to take up her case with the Saudi authorities and to negotiate her extradition to Senegal to stand trial.

Senegal's Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye said last week that Ms Diop was "a victim like many others", adding that the government would crack down on traffickers.

The Senegalese ambassador in Saudi Arabia is due to meet with Ms Diop on Wednesday at the prison where she is being held.

Almaz's story in Saudi Arabia

The abuse of maids in the Middle East is a familiar tale. Benjamin Dix and Lindsay Pollock tell the disturbing story of a young Ethiopian woman who took a job as a domestic help in Saudi Arabia but was treated like a slave.

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