Two Nepalese women—a 44-year-old mother and her 20-year-old daughter—were discovered during a raid of a senior Saudi Arabian diplomat's residence in Gurgaon, India. They had been held hostage for a least a month, after being hired as domestic help. A medical examination confirmed that they had been beaten, raped, and sexually assaulted repeatedly over that period. The women also alleged that they has been, on one occasion, "gang-raped by six expats" in the Gurgaon apartment.
It appears that the women had been lured to New Delhi around four months ago by a sex trafficker, who promised them a well-paid job in Saudi Arabia. From the time they returned from working in Saudi Arabia around a month ago, they were held captive and assaulted regularly.
The raid took place after the police received a letter from the Nepal embassy about the womens' plight. During the attempts to rescue the two victims, several policewomen on the team were assaulted by the diplomat's guards.
The diplomat is yet to be traced down or arrested, but has been charged with gangrape, rape, unnatural offence, wrongful confinement, criminal conspiracy, and criminal intimidation. The diplomat's wife has also been accused of being aware of what was taking place and of actually supporting her husband's heinous actions.
When reached out to by The Indian Express, Saudi Ambassador Saud Mohammed Al-Sati claimed that the incident was
"Completely false. We would not like to comment any further since the case is under investigation by the Indian police."
We'd like to know through what evidence Al-Sati arrived at this conclusion, given that he's not a police officer nor actively investigating the case in any way.
It's disturbing, not only because of the lack of concern for women inherent in such blanket denial, but also because it offers a clue as to how this sordid affair will end. The accused has diplomatic immunity. At best, he'll be expelled from India and forced to return to Saudi Arabia. But what kind of punishment could he possibly see there, given that the Saudi Embassy is still backing him now?
Sure, death by stoning may be a legal punishment for adultery in Saudi Arabia, but the fact that this has been disproportionately launched against women suggests to us that Mr. Diplomat here won't be treated too harshly.